Standard Oil Station
In 1932 Patrick O'Donnell, a contractor, purchased a small 200' by 60' parcel of land on the southwest side of Odell in Livingston County, Illinois. This land was on that great "MOTHER ROAD", Route 66. His plan was to build a gas station which he would lease to his son. And build it he did, using an old 1916 Standard Oil of Ohio design.
This style of gas station is known today as a house with a canopy with added bays. When you tour the station, you will discover the evidence that proves the bays were added at a later date. Look closely at the south interior wall of the bay area.
The station sold Standard products for several years. But by 1940 it was selling Phillips 66. During the heyday of Route 66, there were at least 10 stations along this strip of Rt. 66 that runs through Odell. Competition for business necessitated the addition of the bays by 1940.
This proved to be a sound decision because by 1946 the by-pass was completed and most traffic moved several yards to the west and Rt. 66 establishments began to disappear. When Interstate 55 was completed and Route 66 was decertified in 1977, the death knell was sounded for most of the stations along old Rt. 66. But this one was able to sell gas until 1967 because it had something more to offer.
During the time between 1940 and 1952, the station had several managers and at least one more transformation when it began to sell "Sinclair" products. Robert Close leased the station from O'Donnell in 1952, and with the passing of O'Donnell bought the property from his estate in 1967. During that time he moved his family into the adjacent building which had been converted from a cafe to a house. They lived there until it burned in the 1970s.
Bob Close added another dimension to his station by doing body work which kept him going while others had failed. He continued the body work until the Village of Odell purchased the station in the spring of 1999 for the purpose of historic restoration.
The Route 66 Association of Illinois' Preservation Committee took a strong interest in the station in 1995 and began procedures to save the station and to nominate it for the National Register of Historic Places; a designation awarded on November 9, 1997. From the beginning, the committee held work days and fund raisers to preserve this icon of the "MOTHER ROAD."
The Odell Tourism and Community Development Board and the Route 66 Association of Illinois, along with the help of many contributors, have made great strides in saving this perfect example of a way of life some of us can only remember and others never knew. For the children and their children we continue this work in progress.
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