This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
Motorists driving down Broadway Avenue in St. Paul Park may be surprised when they turn into the Sinclair gas station. Gas is 17 cents per gallon.
At least that is what it says on the hand-cranked pumps in front of the station, restored to look like it might have in the 1940s.
Owner Willie Tennis said the station had been closed for several years. The building came up for sale, and he needed a place to store some trucks and equipment, so he bought it.
His wife, Linda, collected memorabilia from Sinclair, Coke, and other companies over the years, so Willie told her she “should decorate this building with your stuff, so that is what we did. We bought the pumps at estate sales and refurbished them.”
They go to gas station memorabilia sales, including one in Des Moines every July, searching for more items to add. They even found a model of the Sinclair dinosaur to place on the roof.
“Kids see Dino the Dinosaur, and they like that,” Tennis said. “I just want people to enjoy it, to have something fun here in town.”
Tennis owns a vintage car, so he knows that “people with old cars are always looking for a cool scene, a place to take a picture with their old car. People come by and sit on the bench and watch the cars go by.”
One highlight of the building is a large mural facing the gas pumps. It depicts events in the history of St. Paul Park, according to Tennis. On the left side, a dirt road with a horse and buggy leads into town. A building representing a college that used to be in St. Paul Park is in the upper right corner. An old railroad depot and tracks are shown in the middle, and in the foreground, is the Sinclair gas station.
“That is our gas station on the corner,” Tennis said, “and you can see where they are building the house next door to the south of us.”
There is also a second mural on the south side of the building by the alley showing images with a Sinclair theme.
“I just like to hear people around town say it is so fun to drive by there and look at all the stuff,” Tennis said.
If you go...
Name: Restored Sinclair Gas Station
Address: 400 Broadway Ave., St. Paul Park, Minn.
Hours: Always open