A Tankful of History

Note – This article is about the almost completed, brand new Service Station Exhibit in the Town Square. One important piece is missing though – a gas station served trucks!  The Museum needs your help to #BringHomeTheTruck – keep reading to discover how one lonely gas station changed the face of Buffalo Grove.

As long as there have been cars, there have been gas stations, and in the early 1930s, Buffalo Grove got a station all its own.

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Located on what would one day be [exact address of Boston Market on 83], the Welter Service station was the only commercial stop for miles in any direction. The building itself was originally a part of St. Mary’s rectory, but was detached and sent down the road when the rectory was remodeled. Surrounding it was farmland, open fields, and not a lot else – Buffalo Grove was known back then as the dairy supply for Chicago.

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Meet Frank Welter, b. 1887, and his wife Josephine Hoenner, b. 1893. They opened this lonely gas station in the early 1930s, and would have served the cars and gas-powered farming equipment of the entire county. In their shop, patrons could by a few things, cigarettes, cans of oil, the occasional toy, but for the most part would have to make the additional trip to the Weidner General Store for supplies. Unlike today’s busy shopping malls and commercial buildings lining Route 83, fueling the truck or purchasing train tickets would have been quite the event.

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As you can see from this GoogleMap image, Buffalo Grove has grown a bit. Like many suburbs and cities across the country, gas stations have sprung up on one (if not all four) corners of many major intersections. They fit into our daily commutes and schedules without much thought – driving longer than 10 minutes to fuel the old pickup is today’s ‘inconvenient trip.’

One fill’er’up in a county may seem inconvenient today, but Frank Welter’s station was a critical step in the development of Buffalo Grove. The eight years that the Welter station operated saw a plethora of changes in its time: this lonely little station paved the way for more domestic settlements, made travelling downtown for work and fun more feasible, and allowed for greater variety of consumer goods; now supply trucks could make the trip out from the major supply routes, refill and be on their way again. Big impact from a little station!

After Frank and Josephine closed the station, the building once again changed professions. Having gone from rectory to homestead gas station, it then became the home of the Welters’ youngest daughter Gladys and local barber Ed Gerschefske. After they married in June of 1943, they moved into the old service station and operated a barbershop together.

YOUR MUSEUM NEEDS YOU!

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HELP BRING THE TRUCK HOME

Help #fuelthetruck with #TruckBucks! Donate to the Friends of the Park HERE (Designate to the Raupp Museum!) and complete the exhibit – Let’s bring the truck home!

Today, gas stations have cropped up at most major intersections, and fit into our daily travel paths and schedules without much thought – but this way of life was only possible after the first stations paved the way. Help us preserve this important piece of Buffalo Grove’s History!

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