Update 2/24/09: Added a bit more info on the Standard station shown in the 1969 photo below based on information available at historicaerials.com.
For better or for worse, putting gasoline in our cars is a common everyday task, and aside from occasional brand loyalty or trying to find a place that’s a bit cheaper than the others, we tend to rarely give much thought to the gas station itself. On the other hand, if you live or work in the Eastgate area of Bellevue, you may have noticed something just a bit odd about the Chevron station at 150th Ave. SE and SE 38th. Specifically, you may have noticed that the station’s signage bears the Standard label in place of the usual Chevron branding.
In fact, when this particular station got a recent update to the design package for a Chevron station, the Standard name, which has been out of general use since the mid 1980s, remained. In fact, this is the only station in Washington to bear the Standard name, and serves the purpose of keeping the name in use in order to ensure that they retain the rights to the name, and to ensure that the trademarks cannot be usurped by another company. A couple of years ago, Albertson’s learned a painful lesson on the subject when after purchasing the parent company of the Lucky chain of grocery stores (which used to have stores in the Seattle area during the early-to-mid 1980s, including locations at Southcenter Mall and Crossroads,) they then converted all of those stores to Albertson’s. In 2006, Grocery Outlet (a smaller chain based out of Berkeley California which has a handful of stores in the Puget Sound area) attempted to rebrand one of its stores to the Lucky name, claiming that Albertson’s had abandoned the trademark. Albertson’s was forced to reclaim the trademark through litigation, and soon afterwards a number of Albertson’s stores were converted back to the Lucky name, mostly in California. Grocery Outlet continues to dispute their claim to the trademark.
This 1997 brochure published by Chevron (image originally posted on the Groceteria.com forum by Wayne Henderson, who published a book on the history of Standard Oil and its various splinter companies) briefly explains this, although some of these locations may now be out of date. Each state that Chevron operates in has one station that is branded as Standard, but is otherwise no different from a regular Chevron station. In fact, at the one in Bellevue the Standard name appears only on the signage, and the Chevron name appears everywhere else including on the gas pumps.
For those of you who have lived around here for a while, the Standard brand is nothing new. The Chevron brand was first established after World War 2 by the Standard Oil Company of California (abbreviated alternately as either SOCAL at CALSO at different times and places,) one of the splinter companies that was formed in the wake of the 1911 antitrust breakup of the Standard Oil Company. Others included Standard Oil of Kentucky (KYSO, which eventually merged with SOCAL) and Standard Oil of New Jersy, which previously sold gas primarily under the Esso brand, but became Exxon in the 1970s after several trademark disputes, and is now ExxonMobil. During the breakup, each of the splinter companies was given rights to use the Standard Oil name within a specif ed geographic area, although there have been a number of disputes over territory and trademarks along the way. For more information on the rather complicated history of these Standard Oil splinter companies, see this thread on the Groceteria forum for several interesting posts on the topic.
Here on the Eastside, Chevron and Standard branded stations operated simultaneously up until all were consolidated under the Chevron name in the 80s (with the exception of the Eastgate station, as seen above.) The Standard name was applied to corporate-owned stations (but the gasoline sold still bore the Chevron brand) while independently owned and operated stations operated under the Chevron brand directly. Among the portion of the Eastside Heritage Center’s photo archives that has been made available available online, there are examples of both Standard and Chevron stations in Bellevue during the mid-to-late sixties (as well as some even older ones,) which you can find after the jump.
First of all, we have this picture of Robison Motors, a service station located on Main Street in Bellevue in 1930 selling Standard Oil products. This particular station predates the Chevron brand by many years.
Forty years later, we find another Standard station at the intersection of 108th and Main Street in Bellevue. This is located roughly where the Tully’s Coffee shop resides now in the parking lot of the Boater’s World / Office Depot shopping center. According to the maps at historicaerials.com, this particular service station was built sometime before 1964, and was still standing in the 1990 images. By 1998 it was gone (the building it was replaced by was a Bernie’s Bagels shop for a year or two during a short lived bagel boom that seemed to put a bagel shop on every corner for about a year in the mid-to-late Nineties before all but a handful disappeared. I believe that this happened sometime around 1996-1997.)
In the background is the old Sacred Heart Church (Bellevue’s first Catholic church,) which was built in 1926 to replace a smaller wooden building, replaced in 1959 after the congregation outgrew it, and later housed the Bellevue Library. It remains standing today.
Finally, from 1965, we have this view of the intersection of Bellevue Way and Main Street, looking north. On the right of the picture can be seen Evered Motors, which uses the Chevron name on their sign. There was a surprisingly complicated set of rules regarding signs for Standard and Chevron stations back at this time (explained briefly in a post on the Groceteria thread referenced above) Incidentally, the 76 station on the other side of the intersection remains standing, but is now used as a barber shop. Although much of what you see in this photo has long since fallen to the wrecking ball, A few places remain in some form. I’ll be taking a closer look at this area in an upcoming post.