Downtown service station opened in 1960

Bruce Yarnall
Enterprise editor Bill Davies snapped this photo of the new Shell service station just before it opened in August of 1960 -- 60 years ago.

When the Hartley Company of Cambridge opened the new Shell station at the corner of S. Arch and E. Main sixty year ago, the firm was entering a crowded market. The 1959 Barnesville-Woodsfield Ohio Bell Telephone book lists 13 other service stations in business at the time including two other Shell dealers, Hunkler’s on E. Church next to the Post Office, and George Finch at 777 E. Main.

The Hartley Company was established in Cambridge in 1912 by W.H. Hartley, Quaker City native. The company became a distributor for Shell Oil Co. in 1925. At this time the company was expanding its base.

Two two-story brick pre-Civil War structures stood on the site of the new station until shortly after World War II. Originally residences, their first floors were long ago converted to commercial use.

After the Arch Street façade of the corner building collapsed and the building was leveled, local Chevrolet dealer Shepherd & Sons sold used cars on the open lot. The easternmost building came down when the new service station was constructed.

In the March 3, 1960 Enterprise, Hartley’s announced the development noting, “Howard C. Young and Sons of Barnesville has been awarded the contract for construction of the new two-island station.”

On August 18, the Enterprise noted a “two-week promotion gets underway this Friday marking the grand opening of the new Shell service station.”

Manager for the new station was “Willard ‘Sock’ Mann, popular Barnesville resident.

A full-page advertisement in the newspaper that week promoting the station, teased “while they last – new Styro baseballs for children when accompanied by their parents.” And, on opening weekend, customers received a “free six-pack of Coke” with every eight gallons or more purchased.

The celebration ended with a “Grand Prize Drawing” the evening of September 2nd, when Mann drew names for the following USA made prizes – Magnavox Stereo Set, General Electric Clock Radio, General Electric Mixer, General Electric Toaster and General Electric Iron.

Seven years later, the station was under the capable management of Earl Smith, known as Smith’s Shell Service, when he was pictured in the paper handing Mrs. Don Hagan of New Castle a crisp $50 bill as a winner in the Shell Oil Company’s “American” game.

In the 1970s, The Hartley Co. established the Starfire brand to distinguish itself from other independent operators. The Barnesville building was eventually doubled in size, the company adding groceries, deli products in an indoor salesroom. The two-pump operation was also expanded and covered with a canopy.

Now the next chapter begins with the opening of BellStores six decades after the first gasoline service station opened on the site.