Calgary

Restored Eamon's gas station could be home to a drive-in theatre

It's been a long journey, but the historic 1950s-era gas station is almost completely restored and ready for visitors.

1950s-era gas station was sold to a High River car club for just $10

Eamon's gas station has been lovingly restored, and a drive-in theatre is in the works for the historic building. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The restoration of a landmark stop on the old highway to Banff is nearly complete and hosting events in its new home near High River, but there's more to come. 

Brian Chipchase, a volunteer with the Eamon's Garage Historical Society has put 2,000 hours of work into restoring the 1950s-era gas station. 

"We've put the pumps outside, we put the Texaco sign up, we've built cabinets in the back room and we've added three bathrooms on the back, they're not quite finished yet." Chipchase said.

Jeff Langford, president of the River City Classics Car Club, works the cash register at Eamon's. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The group's journey to restore the Eamon's Garage goes back nearly five years.

The River City Classics Car Club bought  the building from the City of Calgary in 2015 after the city sunk $250,000 into preserving the icon located on what's now the Tuscany LRT park and ride lot. 

The club then moved it from its spot along Crowchild Trail to the High River Agricultural Grounds.  

The group held fundraisers and found sponsors to help pay for the renovations, which cost thousands of dollars. 

Jeff Langford, a volunteer with the car club says the project has given them all a sense of pride. 

"When you see guys pulling their cars out front taking pictures at the service station with their classic cars, it is really neat to see it," Langford said. 

Eamon's was built around 1950 in Art Moderne style, and featured a restaurant and cabins. It's since been moved from its original Calgary location to High River. (Submitted by Sturgess Architecture)

The service centre was built in 1952 along Highway 1A by Roy Eamon, in what is now Rocky Ridge in northwest Calgary. It closed in 1966.

The original Art Moderne-style neon Eamon's Camp sign was preserved and now stands at the entrance to the LRT lot.

Now, the relocated and restored historic landmark building has been used as a meeting space, for photo shoots and even a filming location for CBC's upcoming show, Fortunate Son.

"It's really starting to get to the next stage now and we're wrapping up a lot of small stuff. There's always something to do maintenance wise, but it looks and feels like an old service station."  Langford said.

Eamon's gas station has been carefully restored since it was purchased from the City of Calgary in 2015. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The volunteers are not stopping at the gas pumps. 

They have a new vision to build a drive-in theatre behind the building in an effort to preserve the past in a technology filled present day.
    
"You're not playing with your iPhone, you're not, you know, tweetering or whatever you have to do on the phone all the time. You're going to be there enjoying a drive-in theatre so it's a step back in time and it's cool." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terri Trembath

Video Journalist

Terri Trembath is a video journalist who joined CBC Calgary in 2008. You can reach her at terri.trembath@cbc.ca.

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