In 1927, at the height of his career, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a gas station. Part of a utopian city plan that he championed throughout his professional life, this little piece of Wright’s utopia was intended for Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo station was never built, but 30 years later, the master architect got his gas station – this one in Cloquet, Minnesota – and it’s still in business today.
Wright had designed a house for a resident of Cloquet named R. W. Lindholm, who happened to be in the petroleum business. Wright never gave up on his utopian city, and knowing what his client did for a living, he convinced Lindholm to build a gas station that was similar in design to the Buffalo station. The original was part of Wright’s broader goal to build an entire city of his own design – a place he called “Broadacre City” – a kind of city of the future, one that decidedly relied on automobiles. Wright saw the car as a way to personal freedom for Americans, so he gave the drivers of Cloquet what he thought that future needed in a gas station, including an observation deck where the attendants could watch for cars in warmth and comfort.
Wright’s Broadacre City never happened, but at least the Cloquet gas station did. It first opened in 1958, just one year before Wright died at the age of 91. Today the station is still operating, now owned by Lindholm’s grandson. That’s almost six decades of servicing Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of the future. Or at least its cars.
Know Before You Go
Across from Veteran's Park, downtown Cloquet