I have a good friend who is really into documentaries. He’s the type of guy who gave up his car and high fructose corn syrup and is anti-big business war and pro-healthcare.
So, the other day, after watching a documentary on Rock-afire Explosion I happened upon on Hulu, I proudly texted him that I, too, had watched a documentary that inspired me to take action. I decided I should road trip to see all the ShowBiz Pizza-era animatronic bands still in existence.
He didn’t answer my text.
True, in comparison to all the other causes in the world that wasn’t monumental. But, too me, it was important. If there’s one thing I can truly get behind it’s the preservation of roadside architecture and other iconic relics of retro Americana.
Last summer I took a road trip from Chicago to Virginia to North Carolina and back. On the way home I took a detour in Powell, Tennessee to see their Airplane Service Station. Built by two brothers, this airplane-shaped building has been standing since the 1930s and has even been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. First used as a gas station, it was built with the same intent of many other roadside icons of the time: build something unique to draw in the customers.
But today, it’s not in good shape.
Recently named one of the 10 Most Endangered Roadside Places by The Society for Commercial Archeology, this, like many other roadside attractions, needs a little help to keep on flying.
Since 2003, the Airplane Filling Station Preservation Association has been working to restore this old building to its former glory. In their first phase they secured the land and stabilized the building, but they still have a ways to go to make the airplane “move-in ready” for potential local businesses.
Site: Airplane Shaped Filling Station
Location: 6829 Clinton Highway, Powell, TN (Get Directions)
Cost: Free to see.
Hours: Always visible.
Date: September 5, 2010