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.

1915 First Gas Station

1915 — Motorcyclists filling up at Rockville Garage first “gas station” – a single pump. Photo by Lewis Reed

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.

Reed Brothers Dodge Texaco Filling Station

1917 — Original Rockville Garage with 2 story addition. Note the Texaco Filling Station signage and the Texaco Petroleum fuel truck refilling the single pump in front. Photo by Lewis Reed

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.

Reed Brothers Dodge first Gulf Gas Station

1921 — Reed Brothers Dodge got a new facelift and remodel. Note the island with three new Gulf gas pumps. Photo by Lewis Reed

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.

Rockville Garage Sales & Service Staff circa 1920s

Rockville Garage Sales & Service Staff circa 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

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.

Reed Brothers Dodge Gulf Gas

Late 1920s — That Good Gulf Gasoline drive-through filling station with canopy and gasoline pumps were added in the late 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

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 Dodge canopied Gulf Gas Station 1940

1940 — Reed Brothers Dodge canopied full service Gulf Gas Station. Photo by Lewis Reed

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.

Reed Brothers Dodge 1940s

1936 — Reed Brothers Dodge canopied Gulf Gas Station. A closer look reveals the price of gasoline as 15 cents. On the right attached to a telephone pole is a sign pointing the way to Olney. In addition to the Gulf signage there is a small, barely visible sign below that promotes, “Clean Rest Rooms”. Photo by Lewis Reed

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 Gulf Gas Station 1960s

1960s — Reed Brothers Dodge Full Service Gulf Station. Photo by Lewis Reed

Reed Brothers Dodge discontinued offering Gulf Gasoline when they relocated to their new facility in November 1970.

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

5 responses to “Evolution of Reed Brothers Gas Stations”

  1. Jonathan B. Richards II says :

    Hello Again Ms. Jeanne T. Gartner , This is yet another excellent blog to your fine website which I so much enjoy. Being an automotive history buff , and also having “pumped gas” as a full service Texaco station attendant back in the day of true service at the pump , this series of chronological photos is wonderful. The times were certainly simpler , as was our world. I believe it is instructive to look back for a moment and consider what aspects of that simpler time we might wish to reincorporate into our lives today. History can be a great teacher.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hi Jonathan, Thanks for visiting and taking the time to share your story. Times were definitely much simpler back then. I remember Reed Brothers gas station had the little rubber hose that sounded a bell when you drove over it and the pumps would ding for every gallon… and the coin dispensers the attendants wore on their belts to make change after a gas purchase. Ah yes… those were the days!

  2. Reed Berry says :

    I have a visible gas pump globe with glass lenses that are GULF logo design but advertise REED lettering on a 1920’s pump. Wanted to know more information. Purchased 40 years ago at swap meet. I can send pictures. Wonder if they are REED BROTHERS gas pump advertising lenses. Can send pictures. Would like to get information on the lenses.

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Reed, I’m not really sure if REED BROTHERS advertised their name on the pump globe. I tried to enlarge a few of the gas station photos I have but REED lettering is not visible. If you don’t mind sending, I would love to see your picture. I cannot receive attachments through the blog, so the best way to send an image is to my personal e-mail at jtgartner@live.com.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your comment!

      My Best Regards,
      Jeanne

      • Jack Richards says :

        Hello, Jeanne,

             What an interesting response from Reed Berry. I would certainly like to be in the loup as to what photo images he sends of the “REED lettering on a 1920’s pump.” This blog is so open ended that input can vary widely , as in this instance. It could be that the man has an original Reed Brothers gas pump. Please keep me posted and have a great weekend. Jonathan Richards in rainy Chesterfield, Missouri.

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