GALENA, Kan. — A military veteran in Kansas has purchased the historic 1939 Texaco gas station on Route 66 in Galena with the intent to restore it back to its original glory over the next few years.
Army and Coast Guard veteran Aaron Perry, of Wakarusa, Kansas, now owns the filling station at Sixth and Main streets after he purchased the building from Scott Shockley. Perry is no stranger to the Mother Road and has traveled it numerous times by himself and with his wife, Kelly, and their two daughters, Jaxy and Bentley.
Last year, Perry was traveling to a Route 66 Festival in Springfield when he passed through town and noticed a “For Sale” sign in the Texaco station’s front window. He closed on the building on Oct. 26.
“We’ve been to Galena lots of times and have seen Cars on the Route,” Perry said. “I’ve seen the Texaco in the past, and my wife and I have talked about finding something to retire to on Route 66. I stopped again to get a picture underneath the Texaco sign with my 1958 Ford, and I looked at the building and saw the sign.”
The opportunity to acquire the building was a dream come true for Perry, who described himself as both a gearhead and Route 66 enthusiast.
“I’m a road-tripping fool,” Perry said. “I’m into Harleys and old cars both. And I love road trips.
“It was perfect,” he added. “It was meant to be. I want a place where people can share their stories.”
Perry visits the station once a month from Wakarusa but plans to stop by more often during the spring and summer. The veteran, who is currently a federal employee, said the building is his retirement project over the next eight years.
“I can hang out on Route 66, talk to travelers and share their stories and adventures,” Perry said. “It will be a place to hang out.”
The original structure is made from native stone and the additional bay was built in the 1960s, Perry said. He has many plans for the resurrection of the building, such as installing neon lighting and renovating both the interior and exterior. Vintage gas pumps will also be placed in the front parking lot.
Crews have already begun tearing down the water-damaged roof and cleaning up the inside.
“The roof, it’s the old mop-on tar, and it had a lot of leaks,” Perry said. “I’m removing the ceiling, and I’m going to have to hire someone to pull the old roof off and put the new one on. There used to be a store room in the back, and I plan on building another one back there again.”
An artist, Perry also wants to sell gearhead artwork that he creates out of car parts. The station will bear the Texaco name, as well as "Gearhead Curios" to highlight his passion.
“I want to sell Route 66 souvenirs, artwork and Route 66 sodas because where ever I go, I buy Route 66 sodas,” Perry said. “Some of the artwork I’ve made includes lamps made out license plates and hub caps. I made a swing out of an old trunk lift from a Shoebox Ford. I want the Texaco to not only be a place to gather, but I want it to be unique.”
The indoor bathroom will be transformed into the “Pink Flamingo Room,” which will feature pink appliances, walls and tiles.
“In the '70s when you went across country and stopped at a service station, they’d hand you the bathroom key and it was attached to a big old hub cap,” Perry said. “I’m going to do that.”
Renee Charles, president of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association, said the Texaco station was only for sale for a few months. She’s thrilled at the idea that a Mother Road lover wanted to restore a piece of American history.
“I think it’s pretty exciting,” Charles said. “I think it will be another draw to Galena.”
Charles helped restore the Kan-O-Tex service station near the north end of Main Street as part of a group called 4 Women on the Route. The Kan-O-Tex station, now known as Cars on the Route, was the site of inspiration for the Pixar animated movie “Cars.” The parking lot is home to three characters from the film including the rustic boom truck Tow Tater, which led to the creation of Pixar's character Tow Mater.
Perry, who recently acquired a 1951 Hudson Hornet, asked Charles for her blessing to continue the characters with the “Cars” theme farther down the route at his station.
“I picked up the car a couple weeks ago, and I talked to Renee and Flo (Collins), and they’re totally about this,” Perry said. “A buddy and I are going to paint it blue like ‘Doc Hudson’ on the movie ‘Cars.’ We’re going to put the eyes in it, and we’re hoping to put it out there this spring. They were excited about it.”
Social media page
Aaron Perry created a Facebook page called “Gearhead Curios” where people can view photos and updates of the latest renovation work at the Texaco station, as well as gearhead artwork. He’s also made a GoFundMe page to help raise proceeds for the endeavor at www.gofundme.com/restore-a-texaco-on-route-66.