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Coded and Uniform Architecture


Gas station
This former gas station in Childress, Texas....

I bet, whenever and wherever you drive along your road trips, you will immediately be able to identify certain businesses, regardless where your travels have taken you. A McDonalds is a McDonalds is a McDonalds; the Sonic in McAlester looks like the Sonic in Ardmore that looks just like the Sonic in Paris. Wal-Mart doesn't change its spots, either; the big parking lot, huge double doors, flat roof, and two-hue paint scheme of either blue and gray or beige and brown is an immediate give-a-way. And woe be the RaceTrac or 7-11 or Wag-a-Bag that wants to be individualistic; that stuff just won't fly.


This is lamentable, modern commercial brutalism, right? Nope.


Alas, nothing is new under the sun. In my travels around the Red River region, I've found that it is quite easy to identify businesses from "way-back-when" based on their prescribed architecture. Architecture and design were coded and uniform to be efficient in their builds, even the places that we now view as one-of-a-kind quaintness. Signs are not even needed; form, function, and (often) location are simple clues needed to discover what used to be where. To spot the functions of these buildings, one simply needs a few hints. Like here!

Gas station
... looks like this one in Turkey, Texas. They were both Phillips 66! This one has been restored, however. The one in Childress was demolished.
Figure
Who did this fine young lady, memorialized in stone on a green background, represent in Hillsboro, Texas? Or Corsicana, Texas? Mineral Wells, Texas? I can't remember.
Figure
Here she is again, in downtown Shreveport!
Building
She's not on this building in Ranger, Texas, but the other tell-tale signs are, like green panels and laurels on the posts.
Montgomery Ward catalog
She's the Spirit of Progress who represented Montgomery Ward, a now-defunct department store and catalog chain that was Sears' main rival. Speaking of Sears...
Building
... this Sears Roebuck in Flatbush, New York (via Forgotten New York)...
Sears building
... has very similar architecture to the former Sears building in downtown Paris, Texas. Sears had different styles, though; they were so well-known that their architecture did not have to be too uniform. But they were originally located in downtowns, not shopping malls!



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