Now Republican HQ, gas station remains humble

Posted 12/17/19

After nearly 90 years of storied history, the Madisonville Humble Oil station will add a new chapter to its lengthy legacy.

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Now Republican HQ, gas station remains humble

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After nearly 90 years of storied history, the Madisonville Humble Oil station will add a new chapter to its lengthy legacy.

“You always see people getting out to take a photo,” said John Hardy, who bought the station in the 1980s with his wife, Toni.

The building, which has graced the intersection of State Highways 21 and 75 since 1931, will now play host to the Republican Party of Madison County.

“I told someone that there are no buildings in downtown Madisonville more iconic than the Courthouse, Walker’s Cafe and the Humble Oil Station,” said Kevin Counsil, Chairman of the county’s Republican Party. “We want to be good stewards of that landmark.”

Hardy allowed the party to establish their new headquarters in the space.

“(Hardy) has been a mentor of mine since I moved to the county,” said Counsil. “Any time I needed suggestions or advice, he has been a person I have visited. I knew they owned several properties in town and I talked to him about renting one to have for a storefront. He volunteered that area at no contest to us.”

The party has met at the Madison County Annex courtroom in the past and will likely continue to utilize the bigger space to hold their meetings. Once ready, the new storefront will be open at certain times during the week and be staffed by party volunteers.

“People will be able to stop by and pick up campaign signs and other party merchandise like that,” said Counsil.

They have already placed a sign across the building’s awning stating the new purpose of the building. Members of the party will continue to volunteer their time to repaint the building and work on other necessary renovations.

The station was built in 1931 at a cost of $3,778.78, according to an old ledger provided by Hardy. The two bays on the south side of the station were added in 1953 for $14,340.52.

The Hardys bought the station from then-owner Exxon (Standard Oil acquired Humble Oil in 1959, merging the entities into Exxon in 1973) in the mid-80s and used the building to support their fuel business, selling fuel to farmers, ranchers and other locals.

The fuel operations on the site ended in the early 90s, just before Hardy decided to renovate the structure, preserving the building around 1995 for nostalgia’s sake.

“All those (Humble) stations were built by one architect,” said Hardy.

Indeed, John F. Staub, best known for building Ima Hogg’s Bayou Bend mansion in Houston, designed the prototype for all Humble stations in the 1920s. The Madisonville location, one of the few remaining in the state, draws plenty of attention from passers through town.

The Republican Party won’t be the only entity that has used the station for something other than its original use. Hardy said Henson Family Dealerships used the place for a number of years as a “make-ready” space, preparing and servicing new cars sold at the collection of dealerships.

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