Words most often heard from visitors when they step into the Museum’s Shell Station are, “It even smells like an old gas station.” Seeing the price for a gallon of gas at 19 cents amazes many younger visitors and awakens memories of a disappearing element of roadside America for others. You almost expect to see an attendant pumping gas, washing the windshield, and checking the oil of the next car that rolls up.
While the station appears as if it has always been at the Gilmore Car Museum, it is actually an accurate re-creation of an early 1930's Shell Station, complete with all the tools of full service garage from the period. Inside, you will find a vast display of Shell memorabilia, gas pump globes, a 1950 Ford Shell pickup, as well as clean restrooms. Constructed on site in 1998 with the help of many volunteers, the station serves as the Museum’s Interpretive Center and central gathering place for tours. Utilizing original 1929 blueprints in the design and the placement of the vintage Shell gas pumps and signage add to the sense of authenticity.
The porcelain signs that adorn the building hold special significance to the Museum. They were originally part of Hickory Corners’ own Shell Station, which was once located only three miles down the road from the Museum. The station sold Shell products until 1942 when these signs were removed and destined for a wartime scrap drive. In 1998, Shell memorabilia collector Dick Walters “discovered” these signs hanging in a barn a little over a mile from the Museum and added them to his impressive collection. Aside from being a collector, Mr. Walters is the founder of Walter-Dimmick Petroleum of Marshall, Michigan, the nation’s largest Shell jobber.
Dick Walters not only donated a large collection of memorabilia and signage for the service station, but he was also instrumental in obtaining financial contributions toward the project from Shell Jobbers and Dealers of Michigan.
The Museum has received invaluable assistance from other various groups and individuals in creating the service station. Members of the Kalamazoo Antique Auto Restorers Club and the Kalamazoo Valley Antique Tractor, Engine & Machinery Club assisted in the site preparation and finishing the inside of the building. Robert and Sonia Turnquist provided a substantial financial contribution, as did the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the hundreds of individuals who have purchased engraved bricks used for the driveway.