Former service station could be saved from wrecking ball

Building needs to be moved for Kum & Go

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April 1, 2014 | 3:25 am

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former service station has seen better days, but preservationists hold out hope that more of those days are to come.

Kum & Go plans to build a convenience store at the site, which will require the 1930s gas station, at 1432 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, to be demolished or moved.

Advocates hope for the latter.

“It’s one of those rare, first-generation service stations,” Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter said Thursday at a Historic Preservation Commission meeting.

Stoffer Hunter said the building, with its Spanish mission roof, is “one of a rare breed,” still in existence with a style that was not continued after World War II.

Kum & Go plans to demolish three other buildings: the former Crescent Electric Supply Co., 1420 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, a vacant commercial building at 847 15th St. SE and a two-story home at 853 15th St. SE.

The commission approved all three of those permits but put a 60-day hold on the service station.

Member Tim Oberbroeckling asked if the building could be incorporated into the site, a vintage-style building juxtaposed with the modern convenience store. Others suggested the building might be used for a Lincoln Highway museum.

“The way the site is configured, there isn’t any way that station can stay there,” said Jim Piersall, a Cedar Rapids attorney representing Kum & Go.

Piersall, coincidentally, has a personal tie to the gas station.

His grandfather, Earl “Red” Piersall, operated the business as Cities Service for “quite a few years,” Piersall said.

Jim Piersall’s father and his friends used the station as their local hangout around World War II.

“It was the place to go,” he said.

“Red’s boys” was the moniker attached to photos in the window that his grandfather posted of many of those friends who served during the war, including Piersall’s father.

Piersall said the building has not been updated since his grandfather died 56 years ago, but Kum & Go representatives will allow it to be moved, should anyone come forward.

Plans call for demolitions to begin in the spring with the goal to open the Kum & Go next fall.

Cedar Rapids school officials had opposed the plan, as the store will sit about 500 feet from McKinley Middle School. That objection was overruled by the Cedar Rapids City Council in October.

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