Lost and Found

Lost and Found features brief profiles of historic landmarks and structures, one lost and one saved.


The world’s first service station – build exclusively to dispense motor fuel and related automobile products – was opened by the Gulf Refining Company (now Gulf Oil) in December 1913 in Pittsburgh. Located at Baum Boulevard (known as “automobile row” because of its many dealerships) and St. Clair street, the drive-in station boasted thirteen pumps and offered free air, water, and the country’s first commercial road maps. Prior to the advent of such service stations, gasoline was sold by general stores, hardware stores, even blacksmith shops. Not long after this station opened, other companies followed suit, leading to the emergence of the service industry. The station was demolished in the 1950s and is the site of a parking lot.



Pittsburgh’s Whitehill-Gleason Motors Building, located on Baum Boulevard, was designed in the Art Deco style by Maxim­ilian Nirdlinger, who had apprenticed in the office of Philadelphia architect Frank Fur­ness. Erected in 1926 as an automobile showroom, the building was hailed as “one of the finest along Pittsburgh’s au­tomobile row.” The dealership, which sold Marmons and Hup­mobiles, was among the first in the city to combine sales and service in one relatively large building. After a succession of owners, the building – whose interior is remarkably intact – was rehabilitated in 1998, and the following year was entered in the National Register of Historic Places. The property once contained the first service station in the world.