Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Roundtop Filling Station
Roundtop Filling Station

ROUNDTOP FILLING STATION, SHERWOOD, PULASKI COUNTY

SUMMARY

The Roundtop Filling Station is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with statewide significance under Criterion A for its association with the development of Arkansas highway culture.  The Roundtop Filling Station is also eligible for inclusion under Criterion C as a representative example of the Mimetic/Programmatic architecture style common in smaller oil company station designs from the 1920s through the 1960s.  The Roundtop Filling Station is being submitted to the National Register of Historic Places under the multiple-property listing, “Arkansas Highway and Transportation – Era Architecture, 1910 – 1965,” in conjunction with the historic context, “Arkansas Highway History and Architecture, 1910 – 1965.”

ELABORATION

Town and County History

The town of Sherwood was incorporated in 1948.  Prior to that date it was a small, largely rural community to the north of Little Rock.  The City of Sherwood annexed the area where the Roundtop Filling Station sits in 1975.  The property was given to the City of Sherwood by the heirs of the last private owner, George Brown.

History of the Property

In the 1920s, Gay Oil Company held a filling station design competition and the architect John Parks Almand won the competition with a “mushroom-shaped” design.  Almand’s design was a whimsical structure designed for small city lots and provided a distinctive visual element.  While a significant departure from the Almand design, the Roundtop Filling Station draws an architectural reference to the station designs of independent oil and gas companies from the prior decade.  While the large oil corporations established a standard corporate architecture, many smaller gas companies opted for whimsical designs that had a strong visual impact to entice customers.  The Roundtop Filling Station is a part of this architectural trend. 

According to the original operator of the station, W. D. Williford, the station was constructed in 1936 for Pierce Oil Company by Justin Matthews.  Pierce Oil was one of the “baby Standards” that followed the breakup of the Standard Oil Trust in 1911.  Pierce was awarded the area of operation of southern Missouri, Arkansas, western Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Pierce Oil went out of business in 1940 and was purchased by Sinclair Oil.  From historic photographs, the Roundtop Station was also operated as a DX Oil Company station for a period.  Williford operated the station from 1936 to 1972.  Williford purchased the station in 1957 and sold it in 1999 to George Brown.  Being ideally situated on U.S. Highway 67 between St. Louis and Little Rock, the station had a steady business with travelers.  For the better part of the mid-twentieth century, it had the only modern restrooms between Searcy, Arkansas, and Little Rock.  Williford recalls that “pumping 100 gallons of gas into the glass bowl pump was a BIG day.”  Electric pumps were installed in 1941.  In later years, the station was operated as a DX Gas Station.  Although the station has been out of service for several decades, it is the only such extant gas station designed in the Mimetic/ Programmatic architecture style—and in this particular shape and plan—in the state of Arkansas.

SIGNIFICANCE

The Roundtop Filling Station is significant due to its associations with transportation and highway culture in Arkansas during the period 1936-1972.  It is also significant as a component of the historic context “Arkansas Highway History and Architecture, 1910-1965.”  The Roundtop Filling Station is a unique example of a common but varied architectural style, Mimetic/Programmatic, used by small gas companies in the 20th century, and because it is the only extant gas station of this architectural style, shape and plan, in the state of Arkansas, it has statewide significance.  The Roundtop Station is also significant for its associations with the mid-century importance of Old U.S. Highway 67, the main thoroughfare from St. Louis to Little Rock.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

City of Sherwood.  The Signs Still Say Sherwood.  April 2002.  Arrow Printing.

Duran, Ailene.  The Signs Say Sherwood. November 1976.  Heritage Press.

Jones, Dwayne W.  A Field Guide to Texas Gas Stations.  Historical Studies Report 2003-03.  Texas Department of Transportation, Environmental Affairs Division, Historical Studies Branch.  2003.

Pulaski County Deed Records.