The northwest corner of Third and Fairfax where Gilmore Station is located has a long, proud history. It was part of a large tract of land purchased in 1880 by Arthur Fremont Gilmore. Gilmore moved to Los Angeles from Illinois in 1870, seeking a better life on the promising West Coast. Little did he know that his dairy farm would evolve into pioneering businesses that would forever change the city’s landscape.
“Someday you will own a horseless carriage. Our gasoline will run it – Gilmore Oil Company,” read a prophetic statement made by Gilmore Oil Company in 1913. Soon motorists up and down the West Coast were filling up with Gilmore Gas.
In 1918, the next Gilmore generation assumed control of the property. Earl Bell Gilmore, Arthur’s son, went on to create a vast oil and gas distribution network. The auto industry was producing more than four million cars each year. With a healthy portion of those headed for California and Los Angeles, Gilmore’s independent oil company became the largest in the West Coast.
E.B. Gilmore’s flair for promotion made his gas stations a popular part of the western landscape. “Blu-Green” gas, the famous “Red Lion” logo, “Gas-a-terias” (the first self-serve stations offering a discount for those who pumped their own), and radio jingles which people hummed, were examples of his successful promotions. The clear glass globes at the top of gas pumps allowed the color of the gasoline to be seen. E.B. Gilmore jumped on this unique opportunity to become the first oil company to market its gas by its color. Blu-Green and Red Lion Gas fueled the cars and imaginations of West Coasters from the ’20s to the early ’40s.
After the dairy cows were gone the land on which Gilmore Station sits was an active oil drilling site, but by the 1920s, the City of Los Angeles changed their regulations and the oil drilling at the corner of Third and Fairfax ceased. Fittingly, in 1948 the A.F. Gilmore Company built a gas station on the northwest corner. Gilmore #7 was a full-service “Gas-a-teria.” You could pump your own gas or have full-service presented with a smile by a lovely, well-trained attendant.
By the 1960s Gilmore #7 was gone. In the decades that followed the northwest corner had a number of uses; most recently it served as a seasonal pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot. Now, over 130 years after its dairy farm days and still under the stewardship of the Gilmore Family, the northwest corner is the proud home to Gilmore Station.
To learn more about the history of the Gilmore Company, including the founding of Gilmore Station’s big brother, The Original Farmers Market.