This former gas and service station, located along the original 1926 alignment of Route 66 through Monrovia at the corner of Shamrock and Walnut avenues, is finally getting the reconstruction and recognition this historic building deserves.
The Monrovia Planning Commission approved the adaptive reuse of the former Flying A Gasoline Station located at 721 S. Shamrock Ave. in February 2020.
According to a recent city manager’s update, the project involves the conversion of the existing historic building into an artisan workshop with “incidental retail and a live/work space.” It also includes several restoration and rehabilitation improvements to the building’s exterior.
The three Flying A-brand gas pumps are a reminder of a time when one could just say, “Fill ‘er up with the Ethyl!” The frozen in time gasoline pumps — which, incidentally, last pumped gas at a hefty 32 cents a gallon — are currently being restored back to their original glory. Unfortunately, the gas prices today don’t reflect that time.
This 1927 Flying A Gasoline Station with Spanish Mission is one of two remaining in Los Angeles County. The station has been closed for many years.
The first operators were Malcolm Miller and Harry Bain with Miller running the station and Bain the garage. John Biasotti took over both by 1934 and his sister, Mary Purbaugh, ran some kind of store in the building, according to local historians.
After WWII the garage became Henson’s Garage. A long-time employee of Henson’s was a man named Delmar Leist who started there in 1952. The business then became Del’s Auto Repair in 1969 when Henson retired and Leist took over. Leist’s nephew, Dale Smith, took over the business in 1983 and renamed it Dale’s Auto Service. He eventually bought the property from Biasotti and Purbaughin in 1985. He closed the gas station in 1987 but continued operating the garage for many more years.
Curiously, the Flying A logo used by the gas station bears a striking similarity to the “Flying A” silent film studio of Santa Barbara fame. However, our research found no connection between the two.