Evolution of Reed Brothers Gas Stations
Before the advent of the service station more than a century ago, fueling up was an adventure for our ancestors. Pioneering motorists had to take a bucket to the general store, hardware dealer, drugstore or local refinery and fill up from a gasoline barrel. In 1905, gas pumps begin to replace the bucket and funnel method for refueling. Early gas pumps were generally deployed curbside in front of general stores, pharmacies, hardware shops and even blacksmith shops.
Reed Brothers Dodge was the first Gulf gasoline dealer in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1915, they began selling gas at their original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. Their first “gas station” consisted of a single pump. Motorists in Rockville could stop at Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage to buy Fisk tires and auto supplies, and then fill up at the single pump at the curb. Later, in addition to gas, they carried a full line of Gulf lubricants, Firestone and Goodyear tires, Willard batteries, complimentary road maps, free air and water, and many other well known brands of merchandise to meet their patrons needs.
In circa 1917, Reed Brothers became an authorized Texaco Filling Station and sold Texaco gasoline, also from a single pump. The photo below is the original Rockville Garage located at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. To the right is a Texaco Gasoline Filling Station sign. One very tall Texaco branded fuel pump can be seen in this photo along with two Texaco Petroleum refueling trucks.
At some point prior to 1920, Reed Brothers Dodge changed over from selling Texaco and became a Gulf Gasoline dealer. By this time, gasoline retailers had determined that placing gas pumps on an “island” in front of the station, where drivers could approach from either side, provided the most efficient station layout. Reed Brothers got a new facelift and remodel in 1921, and an island with three new modern gas pumps were added. Visible pumps like these, used a graduated glass cylinder to show customers the quality and quantity of gas being purchased. Glass globes, like Good Gulf, usually topped the pumps and advertised the company’s brand and name.
The first uniformed gas station attendants appeared at Reed Brothers around 1920. The Gulf station included a manager and four attendants. Attendants worked long hours in all weather, possessed a thorough knowledge of service requirements for various automobile makes and models, improvised quick repairs on the spot, provided directions to lost travelers, and did it all with a smile. The four men dressed in uniforms and caps in the photo below were Gulf Gasoline Station attendants. Three of the original gas station attendants were Walter (Bud) Beall, Otis Beall and John Burdette.
In the 1920s, the Gulf Refining Co. adopted a brick and tile roof station with canopy supported by four brick columns covering two front driveways. Below are architectural changes in the Reed Brothers Dodge front that were taken in the late 1920s. A modern drive-through canopy was added along with new gasoline pumps. A close-up view can be seen of the new gasoline pump-island with four pumping units along with the motor oil dispensers used at that time. The old pump island can be seen to the left along with a new “That Good Gulf Gasoline” sign.
Below is a circa 1940 photo of Reed Brothers Dodge full service Gulf Gasoline Station with two gas station attendants standing in front. Professional service was very important in the first half of the twentieth century, so it was common for gas station attendants to wear the company uniform.
Reed Brothers Service Station provided restrooms for the traveling public. Patrons wanted clean and safe facilities. In addition to the Gulf signage there is a small, barely visible sign below that promotes, “Clean Rest Rooms” which assured the traveler that the restrooms were well maintained.
Due to changes in the highway, Reed Brothers began an extensive remodeling and rebuilding program. Two-thirds of the original location at the junction of then Route 240 and Veirs Mill Road was razed and a modern Gulf Service Station was erected.
The photo below is a circa 1968 photo of the Reed Brothers Dodge Gulf Gasoline station. The famous Gulf “ice box” design dates back to late 1930’s and there were probably more of these built than any single one of the later Gulf designs. A Coca Cola machine is visible in front of the white Dodge Dart parked in front of the service bay. The sign in the grass to the right of the blue ’58 Plymouth (Belvedere?) reads, “We’re Making Deals on Gulf Tires”.
Reed Brothers Dodge discontinued offering Gulf Gasoline when they relocated to their new facility in November 1970.