The Decaying Standard Oil Station of Vienna, Illinois

The Decaying Standard Oil Station of Vienna, Illinois

Meeting a beautiful ghost while road tripping

While riding from Metropolis towards Springfield, Illinois, I passed through the town of Vienna. It was a place I’d never heard of before. As I slowed my motorcycle and approached the stop sign atΒ IL-146, to my right was the most beautiful ghost. A Standard Oil station.

Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station

Seeing the station, I immediately wished I could have experienced it in its heyday. Thoughts of sharing pleasantries while a coveralled gentleman washed my windshield and filled my tank danced through my imagination.

How could something so lovely fall into such a state of disrepair? The building belongs to someone. Why won’t they save this gorgeous baby? A case of monies best spent elsewhere, I’m sure. Simply trying to survive will always trump everything else.

Practicality aside, I wish that a preservation group would take this beautiful skeleton and return it to its original splendor. To the untrained eye, the building looks salvageable. So many of the lovely elements are just dying to be refurbished. But, who knows? Maybe my wishes and reality are very far apart here.

But it’s nice to dream.

Can you imagine driving over the hose and hearing the *ding-ding* of the bell? I suppose anyone younger than me might not get that reference.

There is probably a generation or two of locals who have this station weaved throughout their day to day memories. People who worked there, filled up there, and now watch it crumble there. Such memories can be bittersweet

Vienna, Illinois’ Gorgeous Ghost

Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station
Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station - interior
Vienna Illinois decaying Standard Oil Station - facade

Yesterday, I learned a new word.

Anemoian. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.

Its definition came from the depressingly named, Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. But I happened to read it while perusing the much less heartachingly titled Route 66 News.

Some articles about the Vienna Standard Oil Station:

25 Replies to “The Decaying Standard Oil Station of Vienna, Illinois”

  1. First, those are awesome pics. I am glad the sight of the sad derelict touched you enough to make you stop and capture some images. It would make a very cool restaurant/cafe. I am old enough to remember the ding, but am not sure I prefer the old full-service gas stations of yesterday.

    Second, LOVE the video, and the quote: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. A lot of those places are really hard to sell as the new owner could inherit the contaminated ground from leaking tanks. But it still looks like a great building and location.

    The “ding” wasn’t that long ago…

  3. What a great find, Fuzz–a diamond in the rough indeed–and well done snoopin’ around as you did.

    I often feel anemoia (now I know the diagnosis) for the 1940s–I don’t know why. My grandparents were in their primes, and radio was entering its golden age, but things were mighty tough as well, with the fallout of the Great Depression, and with WWII in full swing… Nevertheless, I believe that it’s there, er, then I really belong.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for introducing me to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I’ve added it to my feed and will be spending some time there.

    1. Yea, i’m with you there. I feel it too but sometimes i can’t quite put my finger on a specific timeframe other than to day sub-1960s – 1900. Though as a woman, i’m sure my actual experience in that timeframe would’ve been maybe…. not so great πŸ˜‰

      If you like the sorrows, you would also probably like the Grandiloquent Word of the Day. I follow them on Facebook and get a chuckle out of their illustrations and word choices. You really CAN learn something new every day.

  4. I do love the old gas stations. Here in the south, many of them have been made into cafes and restaurants, as Kathy mentioned.

    I remember the ding…and I agree that I would not have fared so well in an earlier time, when things were much more restrictive for women.

    Also LOVE the grandiloquent word of the day page, thanks for sharing!

  5. I live in Vienna Illinois. There are pics of the old station inside neds shed, a lol burger place across the street. I wish there was a way to restore this old building.

  6. That’s my hometown!
    I’m old enough to remember that service station being in business… it wasn’t that long ago!
    Many people have tried to purchase that old gas station. The problem has come in peoples inability to remove the old tanks buried underground… the cost is astronomical to most. Many people, including my own mother, have thought about purchasing the old station, to make a coffee/pastry shop, etc.

    1. πŸ™‚

      It seems like there are lots of people who love the ole gal. Maybe… just maybe the stars will align base don such an outpouring of interest in it.

  7. Loved your post. I grew up in this town. I use to hang out there as my friend dated the owner’s son. I have tried for years to raise interest but there are just “no takers” if you will. I wrote an article for the local paper telling its history of being built by the Standard Oil Company as part of a chain across the US at major intersections. I offered to form a committee to work on the issue. I did not get one reply. I know of a way around the issue of the tanks, said so in my article and again, no one asked me what I knew, not even one person. It is beyond sad! If you would ever like a copy of my article telling its history message me back and I’ll send it to you.

  8. My father was the last person who ran this station around 1976. He closed this one and moved out to the interstate being the very first business to open out by the interstate. I can remember as a kid spending many days in the old station trying to help out.

  9. I love this old station too. I think it would be great if it was restored. It saddens me every time I drive by there. I would love to do something with the building myself. It seems like people these days don’t value such buildings as these. They would rather tear it down and build new. It’s sad! By the way I love the pics.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Carla πŸ™‚

      There seems to be an awful lot of people who care about this building. There seems to be so much interest in it. Perhaps a preservation group could assist or give guidance on saving it.

  10. Weasel that the old Avery’s station I used to clean drive for Jim Avery in winter and also did Dollie store for C.L. McCormick many.years ago

  11. I lived next door to this station as a kid back in the 70’s. So many fond memories! Harassing the workers, buying candy from the old coin operated candy machines. (Clark bars, Mallow cup-a favorite!) Not to mention jumping on the rubber lines to make the “ding, ding” sound over and over. Much to the workers chagrin…Fond memories here to say the least, and my vision too would be a full restoration!

  12. I can remember this station as far back as the early 60’s. And believe this one or not, I remember gas being 19 cents a gallon on the pumps that were in the front. What great memories and yes, a great restoration project!!!!!

  13. The owner of the building when the red letters were removed, Cliff Mathis, told me that Standard Oil told him to remove the letters because of trademark laws or something to that effect. I don’t know why they would care since it was no longer in use. I personally think that leaving it in its original state would be good for Standard’s image. He told me that the shed on the south side of the building was added later and was used to service large trucks that would not fit into the service bay in the original building.

  14. My dad worked there in the late 50s – early 60s. I have a picture of him in his Standard shirt & hat inside the station. Would love to see it restored to a coffee shop or ice cream/smoothie shop!!

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