This Waco Gas Station is Googie History

By: jwilder

Cars and architecture are closely related. Let me show you how this former Waco gas station can be traced to an architectural movement that began in California in the 1940s.

Phillips 66 Service Station in Waco

Phillips 66 service station Waco Texas

This architectural treasure is a former Phillips 66 service station, located in Waco, Texas.

It’s not just a service station, it’s an oasis of cool. Step back in time and let the professionals fill your tank, check your oil, and wash your windshield. All while you stretch your legs and admire your tail fins.

This brilliant red and white service station was constructed in 1964, the same year the Ford Mustang was introduced and the government mandated seatbelts for every car.

Phillips Petroleum used this modern architectural style between 1960 and 1970. It was inspired by an architectural trend that started in California, called Googie. It was commonly used by businesses such as drive-ins, motels, diners and coffee shops.

The eye-catching architectural features of these Phillips 66 stations were the upwardly projecting triangular canopy, full glass office enclosure, glass garage bay doors and bright lights that accent the canopy. The lights underneath the canopy flooded the area with light and gave customers a sense of security. And of course, brought attention to the skyward aimed canopy, a brilliant use of architectural style to serve as distinctive branding.

The glass walls of the service office angled out and upward. This not only looked cool, but served a purpose. The angled class deflected car headlights, making it easier to see into the office at night.

Now, hop in the time travel machine and lets cruise over to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and find out a bit about the man that designed these groovy gas stations!

Clarence Reinhardt - Architect of the Times

Phillips 66 service station architecture

Clarence Reinhardt was an architect the coolest architect at Phillips Petrolium, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. His career at Phillips began in the 1930s, and his specialty at Phillips was gas station design.

We all know the 1950s was a special decade. Car culture was accelerating and businesses were scrambling to get in on the action.

In 1951, Phillips Petrolium sent Reinhart on a fact-finding mission some fifteen-hundred miles west to Los Angeles, California. Phillips wanted to explore the possibility of increasing profits by integrating drive-in features into a new gas station design.

After returning from California, Reinhardt reported what he thought was the key to success. The most popular drive-ins had bold eye-catching architecture. He mentioned specifically a drive-in called Tiny Naylors.

Tiny Naylor’s was built in 1949. I don't know about you, but that kinda blows my mind. The drive-in was located at the corner of La Brea and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

at the time Reinhardt visit, this architecture didn't have a name to distinquish it from modern architecture. A few years later, an architectural writer used the name "Googie" and it stuck.

Tiny Naylor's was demolished in 1984.

So, what is Googie architecture?

What is Googie Architecture

Tiny Naylors Restaurant

Simply stated, Googie architecture is a form of mid-twentieth century modern architecture. It was influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age. The style originated in Southern California during the 1940s and continued into the mid-1960s.

The main goal of Googie architecture was to grab the motorist's attention. It did so by being bold, modern, and very, very hard to miss.

Googie architecture was popular among businesses such as drive-ins, motels, coffee houses and gas stations.

Douglas Haskell, a writer and editor, coined the term Googie in an article he published in 1952 in House and Home Magazine. The name Googie actually comes from a coffee shop in Los Angeles, California called Googie's.

Haskell used the name of this coffee shop to represent the architecture as a whole. It turned out to be a smart move for Haskell, because the name stuck. Googie's was a name most Californians easily recognized, since it was a well known restaurant and was frequented by celebrities such as James Dean.

Googie’s was demolished in 1989. But the style lives on!

Googie Architecture Revival

P Terry's Mid Century Modern Resturant in Austin

Buildings can be demolished, but ideas can live on forever. That’s the case with Patrick Terry.

Patrick Terry grew up in Abilene Texas. He had fond childhood memories of a burger joint called Mack Eplen’s. In fact, Patrick was so fond of this business he had dreams of building his own. And that he did, big time I’m a say.

Patrick Terry, along with his wife Kathy, opened the first P Terry's on July 5th, 2005 at the corner of South Lamar and Barton Springs in Austin.

All P Terry's hamburger stands adhere to the Googie architectural style. However they each have their own distinctive character.

Each of the P Terry buildings were designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.

There are currently fifteen P Terry’s in Austin and one in San Marcos.


Googie is still around us, but it’s original artifacts are fading quickly.

As with all the articles I write about historic buildings, it is my goal to raise awareness and my hope is always that these buildings will be appreciated and restored, rather than torn down.

Former Phillips 66 Location

Former Phillips 66
2601 W Waco Drive (and 26th)

More Waco Attractions of a Groovy Nature

I put together a guide (blog post) titled Waco Attractions for Auto Enthusiasts. Check it out if you want an easy to consume, one page list of suggested Waco attractions!

The first Phillips 66 station in Texas was built in McLean, Texas. It still stands as a restored historic building and Route 66 attraction.


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