In 2012, the San Antonio Conservation Society began a survey of historic gas stations in the city of San Antonio. The surveyors started with information gathered from a 1983 survey, which concentrated on gas stations built before 1940 within the original 36 square mile city limits.
The purpose of the present survey is to document the extent and the architecture of gas stations in San Antonio, and to show their use and adaptations through the decades.
The survey begun in 2012 builds on the original 1983 survey. It includes new information on stations in the old survey, as well as those built from 1940 to 1970. And it enlarges the geographic area covered to the 410 Loop, considered to be the San Antonio city limits in 1970.
To draw all available information together, the 1983 survey forms (some including notes and drawings) have been scanned and the photographic slides and prints documenting that survey have been digitized. In addition, information from the 1983 forms has been entered into to present database. For the 1940-1970 portion of the survey, the San Antonio City Directories were used to create a list of gas stations extant within that period, which was entered into the database. Then, surveyors went to the streets and roadways; photographed what they found; and described the architecture on forms which include information on architectural form and style, building materials, roof type, doors and windows, canopies, signage, and gas pump placement.
The survey identifies and describes an urban form of roadside architecture which has existed in San Antonio since the early part of the 20th century. That the buildings have endured to this day implies that they are well built and are prime candidates for reuse. The survey can be used to identify buildings which are eligible for historic designation. In addition, information gathered in the survey can aid research into the retail oil business in the city. The Historic Gas Station Survey is ongoing. It is estimated that the completed survey will include approximately 2000 gas stations built between 1910 and 1970 in the city of San Antonio.