Cloquet's R.W. Lindholm Service Station, more commonly known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, was sold to Broadacre, LLC of Minneapolis on March 18, 2018, for $250,000. The registered agent and manager listed for the company is William Andrew Volna.
The station was completed in 1958 on the corner of Cloquet Avenue and Minnesota Highway 33. Out of his 150 designs, it is the only gas station by Wright.
The building includes a glass-enclosed observation deck over the main office. At one time, it sported custom-made furniture, a table and egg shell-shaped chairs designed by Wright. Someone stole the table years ago and the previous owners kept the chairs.
The building is topped by a large and distinctive cantilevered roof that is covered with copper shingles, which turned to a green patina decades ago.
It was built at the request of local resident Ray Lindholm after Wright designed their home. The station stayed in the family when Ray’s daughter Joyce (Lindholm) McKinney passed it down to their sons.
The sons reached retirement age and sold off parts of their businesses, including the gas station last year.
Chris Chartier is happy to continue working out of the four garage bays he has occupied since 1982. Chartier and a business partner considered purchasing the building in 2016. Once news broke of the former D's Fabric Care becoming a superfund site, the partner backed out. The two buildings are attached at the back wall.
Chartier hadn't been aware of the contamination issue until he was preparing to purchase the building from the McKinneys. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency brought the issue to his attention in 2016 and let him know as the new owner he could be responsible for any costs. Chartier said he was told later by the MPCA that it is no longer concerned with issues at the FLW building.
“It works well for me,” Chartier said. “Andrew (The new owner) knows I have been here forever ... I told him I’m going to stick around.”
Besides being a tourist destination for Wright architecture admirers, the building has also been the site of music videos, an insurance commercial and an episode of "My North" with Minnesota native Louie Anderson. However, Anderson was not at the station during the filming.
“People come from around the world to take photos,” Chartier said. Many residents have observed admirers standing in the middle of Cloquet Avenue to get their perfect shot of the local landmark.
Chartier said he has received many calls inquiring about possibly using the famous landmark in other projects in the near future, although he does not have anything solid yet.
He said they will continue to do the mechanic work they have been known for as well as sell gas and propane.
“We’ve always been busy,” Chartier said. “We are pretty much filled every day. People like people they know, people they trust.”
Neither the new or previous owners responded to the Pine Journal's request for an interview.