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Lord Baltimore No. 6

Lord Baltimore No. 6

Washington, D.C., circa 1924. "Lord Baltimore Filling Station No. 6, Connecticut Avenue and Ordway Street N.W." View full size. National Photo glass negative.


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Eighty cents a gallon seems like a lot for alcohol, when the gas was around 20 cents. Many cookstoves used gasoline and kerosene. And calling out the 188 proof on the sign would indicate to me that this is antifreeze quality. Alcohol for antifreeze was still popular here in the Northeast to the mid 50's. Required was a change to a 160 degree thermostat for the winter to slow the boil-off of alcohol. But still you needed to carry a gallon with you to top off the radiator, every day.

Ethylene glycol was very expensive even in the 1950's. So many motorists used the cheaper alcohol.

And the story of the discovery of ethelyne glycol was that it was a byproduct of another chemical manufacturing operation and was just piped out of the building and let on the ground. When the chemists saw that it mixed with rain and snow and didn't freeze the light bulb of enterprise came on and the search for a use for this resulted in an antifreeze product.

[Or maybe not. Ethylene glycol was first prepared over 150 years ago by the French chemist Charles-Adolphe Wurtz. - Dave]


The primary motif seems to be Colonial Revival, with the columns, pilasters, cupola, trellis fence, etc., fitting the name quite well. The tile roof seems a bit more Mediterranean, though. Still, an attractive building.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol sold at a gas station by the gallon was most likely for use in stoves. Denatured alcohol stoves are still sold for camping and marine use.

Robert Beresford

Architect Robert Beresford designed this fine station in 1923 for the Connecticut Avenue Accessories Company. It was built at the southeast corner of Connecticut and Ordway over the winter of 1923/24. In spring of 1924, Beresford presented his design for a modern filling station at the annual exhibition of the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. As in the other Robert Beresford creation seen on Shorpy, "modern" features included wide driveways, numerous pumps, protective canopies, and even a women's restroom.

The president of the company, Alan E. Walker, was a local real estate mogul. He died in May of 1925 and it appears that soon after the the ownership of the station had transfered to the Lord Baltimore Filling Stations, Inc.

Washington Post, Dec 9, 1923

The new filling station and accessory store of the Connecticut Avenue Accessories Company, at the southeast corner of Connecticut Avenue and Ordway streets, well be the finest and most complete establishment of its kind in the country, according to the officers of the company.

The station will have five concrete driveways, each 18 feet wide, eliminating congestion and facilitating entrance and exit. Eight visible measure gasoline pumps and eight double visible measure pumps will be installed. Wide attractive canopies will cover all driveways. Oil pumps will be located in heated vestibules, keeping the oil during the cold weather at a temperature where it will flow freely. Adjoining the large accessory store there will be a handsomely appointed women's rest room.

At the rear of the station a large area will be devoted to specially constructed oil draining pits, and five air lines, each with automatic gauge. ... The building will be heated with oil. A complete oil-heating apparatus with a 1,000 gallon storage tank will be installed.

Construction is now progressing rapidly, and it is expected that the station will be opened in the later part of the winter.

The Connecticut Avenue Accessories Company is composed of Allan E. Walker, president: Henry T. Offterdinger, vice president and treasurer and E. Edgar Leedy, Secretary. Theodore Offterdinger will be manager.

Washington Post, Mar 17, 1924

The 1924 exhibition of the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects will come to a close tonight after the most succesful exhibition in its history. ...

Robert Beresford presents a design for a gasoline filling station now under construction on Connecticut avenue and Ordway street. It is a pleasure to see that we are at last to have a well-designed building which is to be used for this purpose

Other sources: Washington Post, Nov 18, 1923; Jul 13, 1924; May 16, 1925; Mar 6, 1925

Trolley lines

There are two power lines for trolley cars and yet there are only two rails, one on each side of the pole. Is it possible that the trolleys had rubber tires on the other ends of their axles and used the rails only as a guide? Could have been done by using steel wheels with two flanges to straddle the rail. Hummm, maube the trolleys had a slot down through their middles so they could let the power pole pass right through the car!!!

[There are four rails. - Dave]


Thanks for the close-up.

Again, I am guessing, but wasn't alcohol used as antifreeze back then? I have read that ethylene glycol-based antifreeze didn't see wide automotive use until the late 1930s, primarily due to cost.

Keep the filling station and garage pictures coming, plus count me in as a tterrace fan!

Lord Baltimore Capital

Lord Baltimore Capital Corporation is the present-day successor to this chain of filling stations. Both the American Oil Company and Lord Baltimore Filling Stations Inc. were founded by the Blaustein family.

The trolley power pole in the middle of the road was an automotive collision magnet, I bet.

Could we please have a close-up of the alcohol sign by the front door?

I'm guessing the "Free Crank Case Service" was a drain and refill of engine oil offered with purchase of the oil itself.

Stations of the Gas

I'm guessing that the other Washington gas station buildings followed the same architectural theme of a train station. It would seem a very effective way for customers to identify their "brand" of filling stations. This building is rather elegant looking with its clock cupola, tile roof, and columns. I can't make out the writing on the ceiling lights around the perimeter.

[The Lord Baltimore stations, along with other Washington gas stations, were designed by Arthur B. Heaton. - Dave]

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