Stop 17: The 1935 Sinclair Gasoline Station
The 1935 Sinclair Service Station building may be incognito with the conversion into cafes of the first decades of the twenty-first century. it you gaze for a few moments at 14249 7th Street you will make out the configuration of an early twentieth century gas station.
At its opening in 1935, a trip to the gas station meant full service. A crisply uniformed attendant met the customer at the vehicle and asked for the order. The attendant offered to check the oil and always washed and polished windows for the vehicle, buffing them to a nice clear shine. The attendant would routinely check the oil, and inquire if you needed anything else. The customer sat comfortably in the vehicle and paid the attendant with cash. In the days before credit and debit cards, the process was full service. It was a very proper exchange and many times the attendant was attired in trendy white gloves and well pressed uniform as well. Some photos of the Sinclair Service Station location show parades passing by in the 1960s, for example: a photo of a woman walking through with a bus in the background, and the earlier renovation of the building for its transformation to a lovely restaurant.
“The new modern service station recently erected by Henry Webster Curtin, Sinclair distributor has been leased to Harold Aughenbaugh,” penned The Banner. The opening was on October 1, 1935. The building was considered modern style stucco over brick.
Henry Webster Sinclair lived in Dade City for fifteen years and was not only the Sinclair distributor but also a realtor and investor. As of 1939, he owned all of the surrounding buildings to the south of the Sinclair Station.
A U.S. Marine in World War II, Lewis Abraham purchased the Sinclair Company for $18,500 when he returned from the war around 1946, and sold it in the late 1990’s. His family emigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1904, and over time, Lewis Abraham who was also an accomplished real estate broker was well-known of Dade City folks. His generosity as a participant and contributor to many causes was felt in the community. It was also said he was a great partier, known for being one of the best of hosts and a great jokester!
Journalist Tom Jackson wrote in 2004, “His (Lewis Abraham) reputation for hospitality fit neatly with his equal reputation for generosity.”
Sinclair Oil was one of the hippest of gasoline companies. In neighboring Brooksville, the Sinclair station mimicked the contours of a dinosaur, and was acknowledged as a unique station configuration in corporate history. The Dade City Sinclair station was a classic one and displayed the characteristic logo.
Commercials and advertising followed information about gasoline and oil products and used the symbol of the dinosaur as mining for these precious substances. The corporation’s logo featured the silhouette of a large green brontosaurus, based on the then-common idea that oil deposits beneath the earth came from the decaying remnants of dinosaurs.
Also, civic minded, this particular location that now houses Perk’s Café! was the sponsor of a community baseball team in the 1930s.
Abraham became a commercial real estate broker and investor in such places as the Edwinola Hotel expansion into a high-rise. He served as a commissioner and worked with several community projects.
Next, to the old Sinclair Station, two other very noteworthy buildings appear in the photos. To the direct south is The Wine Library and of course your next stop on the tour to the south, walking on 7th, you will see the signage at the beautiful old house with “Lowman’s Law Firm.”