Rison Cities Service Station

The Rison Cities Service Station is located at the corner of Main and Magnolia streets in Rison (Cleveland County). Constructed in 1938 in an English Revival style, the building was used as a location for the sale of gasoline and other related automobile products for more than thirty years. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 10, 2001.

The growing popularity of automobiles in the early twentieth century led to the establishment of various businesses to supply gasoline and other products to drivers. With many located in residential areas, these buildings were often constructed to resemble nearby homes. The design of this station resembles that of several other stations in the state, including the Cities Service Station in Mount Ida (Montgomery County). This design was likely standardized, with the prefabricated parts shipped to various locations where service station operators put the buildings together.

Facing Main Street to the southwest, the single-story brick building sits on a continuous concrete foundation. Designed in an English Revival style, the service station is topped with a steep double gabled roof covered with composition shingles. A centrally located door flanked by large picture windows with concrete sills offers entrance into the building. At the time of the National Register nomination, the front door included a nine-over-two window, but a nine-pane window was later installed in the door. A central gable with an oculus is located above the door.

The sides of the building were originally mirrors of one another. A large picture window is located on each side of the building near the front, and a door is located closer to the rear. The doorway on the southwest side of the building is bricked in, and the window on the northwest side includes an air conditioner. Another gable is present on each side of the building, and each includes an oculus. The rear of the building includes four evenly spaced windows with concrete sills. The gas pumps once located in front of the building were removed sometime before 1975.

The Arkansas Fuel and Oil Company originally leased the land for $400 annually with an initial payment of $500. These payments led to the acquisition of the property in 1943. The Cities Service brand was one of the early national service station chains. In 1965, it was renamed Citgo. Various managers operated the business over the decades until the closure of the station in 1969. It was sold to the Elrod Company, which in turn sold it in the 1970s to the present owners. Various businesses, including an insurance agency, used the building after it ceased operations as a service station. By 2001, it was being used as a storage facility. The Rison Texaco Service Station, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located about one block away.

The building remains a good example of an early service station with residential-style architecture. With the removal of the gas pumps and the covering of the grease pit, little evidence remains of the original function of the building.

For additional information:
“Rison Cities Service Station.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CV0032.nr.pdf (accessed July 16, 2020).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 07/16/2020