Frenchtown Station, where timeless character meets 21st Century cool. We've selected unique items - antique and vintage; architectural and industrial; reclaimed and repurposed- for home, garden, and work space.
Speaking of reclaimed and repurposed . . . Our shop is a 1930s era filling station in the Frenchtown section of Paducah, KY. The oldest of the "Little Towns" in historic Paducah, Frenchtown was so named after French settled in that area in the 1830s. The building, while diminutive, is significant for its design and integrity. Built to resemble an English cottage, the grand little building retains original casement windows, service bay paint, and gabled parapets.
Frenchtown Station provides the visitor a healthy dose of experiential shopping. The store is located in a unique space, historic yet cool in its repurposed state. Items offered at Frenchtown Station have been culled and curated with passion, vision, and intentionality.
The Grand Little Building
For decades, a grand little building sat empty and dark on a perfect corner spot in historic Paducah. Regardless of the passage of time and the battering of the elements, this diminutive icon held fast to her charm. In 2016, Paducah couple, Chris and Ginny Hutson, became the owners of the structure in the Frenchtown section of Paducah. Fully armed with an affection for the architecture of the structure and plans for its use, they began digging for its back story. Turns out, the history of the building is every bit as endearing as the place itself...
In 1930, a young contractor, Ray Black, was hired by Three Rivers Oil Corporation to design and build a filling station at the corner of Jefferson and 11th Street in Paducah. In the early years of the automobile, homeowners across the country were less than thrilled to see filling stations appearing in their neighborhoods. With this in mind, Ray Black designed a structure to resemble an English cottage, complete with high pitch roof, long narrow casement windows, flower boxes and seven beautiful iron lanterns.From 1930 to the mid 1950s, the gas station (Shell) served the good folks of the area. The next three decades find the grand little building hosting a variety of businesses, including a Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio (the building was painted pink!), a beauty salon, and a photography studio.
After two decades of vacancy, restoration of this resilient and charming structure began in earnest.
Renovation of the Grand Little Building
Remember the young contractor who designed and constructed the gas station in the style of an English cottage? Ray Black went on to establish a successful construction company, and it is now operated by his grandson and great grandson. It only made sense to have Ray Black and Sons restore the 1930 gas station for use as Frenchtown Station.
On the interior, the high space of the building was completely revealed by removal of a short ceiling. Once accomplished, the high-pitched ceiling and half-moon windows were completely revealed, giving the grand little building the feel of a small cathedral.
Our building was constructed to resemble an English cottage (so as to better assimilate a filling station into a residential community in 1930). This included casement windows which open along the jamb, to the side. The long, narrow casement windows were restored, and then returned to their rightful location on either side of the front door.
Below each casement window are concrete brackets, built in 1930 to hold garden troughs. Since purchase of the building, and even during restoration, these troughs have been filled with seasonal plants, flowers, and herbs.
Many years ago the original garage door for the filling station was removed and replaced with a plate glass window. We knew return of a garage door, the right garage door, was integral to restoration of the building. We selected a multi-window garage door (which can be raised and lowered). The garage door, powder-coated with a dark green color, will serve as the "store front" for the building.
The interior walls were thoroughly cleaned, followed by application of a clear sealant. The walls of the former service bay reveal, in mosaic form, remnants of the green paint from the days when Three Rivers Oil Corporation operated the neighborhood filling station.
On the other side of the building, exposed bricks, handmade by Finzer Brothers Clay Company in Sugarcreek, Ohio, serve as the perfect backdrop for items at Frenchtown Station.
Exterior paint was kept as is, accentuated by the aforementioned garage door, and fresh paint for the casement windows and front door. Flecks of pink can be seen on the exterior, a reminder of when the former filling station was briefly transformed as a Merle Norman cosmetics studio.
When you face the building, look for the "stripes" just above ground level. There you will find faint red and yellow stripes, a reminder of the time when the building housed a Shell Oil filling Station beginning around 1935 or 1936.
Exterior work included restoration and reconstruction of cornice returns, the decorative molding which "crowns" a building. On the front, and just below the cornice returns, are gabled parapets, an added feature to the grand little building. Each parapet is adorned with tiles in the shape of a diamond.
Functional measures were taken as well, including tuck point work on exterior brick, addition of gutters and downspouts, and a new asphalt surface in front of the building.
Small in size, but grand in terms of its appearance and features. We look forward to your visit to this grand little building, restored for use as Frenchtown Station.