A preservation group in Des Moines is turning to a popular auction website in hopes of finding a buyer for a historic structure.
The opening bid on eBay is $26,000 for the Continental Oil Company building.
It opened in Iowa’s capitol city in 1933 as a gas and service station. The 26-by-44-foot building with a terra cotta roof is in the architectural style of Spanish Mission Revival. It was saved from the wrecking ball by being jacked up and moved, but now needs a permanent home.
Sarah Oltrogge, spokeswoman for Des Moines’ Historic East Village, says too many buildings in the area are being flattened. “We really didn’t want to see another building go down and this one particularly has inspired so much conversation because it is unique looking,” Oltrogge says. “It has that kind of Spanish feel to it.”
At least two other filling stations that were virtually identical were built at the same time in Davenport and Keokuk, along with two others in Des Moines. She says this station is the only survivor. It was used as a gas and service station for 75 years until its closure recently and is a very well-preserved example of an urban filling station. It could be used for all sorts of purposes in its second life.
“People that we’ve talked to have looked at different things like turning it into a coffee house,” Oltrogge says. “It would make a great small office for someone. There are people looking at possibly converting it into a private residence.” She says the building is eligible to be put on the National Register of Historic Places.
“There’s lots of grants people can apply for — for historic renovation,” Oltrogge says. “There’s historic tax credits that will help pay 25 to 50-percent of any renovation cost and the purchase price is tax deductible. How often can you buy a property or a home and get credit on your taxes for it?”
She jokes that it might make a nice home for someone but the problem is, you’d have to take the key, go outside and around the corner to use the bathroom. To see the full auction, click on the link in the story at RadioIowa.com — or go here .