Thunderbolt Pure Oil filling station now Airbnb with motor head decor

At the corner of Bonaventure Road and Mechanics Avenue in Thunderbolt is a slice of pure Americana. Pure, literally. This is the building that was the Pure Oil gas station operated by Freddie Byrd in the 1940s and 1950s.

Frankie Kerby and Cookie Espinoza relaunched it as an Airbnb studio called The Gas Station. Frankie describes himself as a “motorhead” who enjoys all things historical and automotive. They therefore worked to ensure that the decor inside reflected the heritage of the building.

A large print of a vintage black and white photo is a clear focal point. It shows three gas station attendants in Pure uniforms and caps standing next to the gas pumps in front of the building. Exactly as one could photograph it today.

“When we bought this building from Scott Poppell, he was kind enough to give us the canvas. His mom got the photo from a Thunderbolt family album and blew it up as a gift to Scott. One wonders who the three men are or the little boy who peeks behind the sycamore tree.

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Cookie Espinoza and her dog Salt are resting in the Airbnb gas station.  Note the metal can which serves as a wastepaper basket.

Going back even further, Frankie explained the century-old importance of the location. The Automobile Club of America Grand Prix was held in Savannah in November 1908. It was the very first Grand Prix road race in the United States.

The 400 mile race (approximately 15 laps around the 26 mile course) drew teams from automakers from around the world. Fiat scored a victory in less than a minute over Benz with an average speed of 65 mph.


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