What Do You Think You're Looking At? #128
Awhile ago, I showed you this old Texaco sign, hiding in plain sight, along the main road outside my hometown of Flemington, New Jersey:
I want to show you a few more little buildings around Flemington, one of which I’ve also showed you before. For many years it looked like this. And before Country Griddle, it was a pancake house. I had assumed it had been built as a restaurant.
But before that, it was a car dealership—as evidenced by these hidden vintage logos, exposed when the restaurant’s exterior was being redone! GMC, then Chevrolet:
And here it is now, with the renovation complete but the old diner sign still intact!
Layers and layers.
I also want to show you this segment of an old strip plaza on the traffic circle. Here it is:
It’s a bit chopped up now, but I believe the portion from the right of the Pier 1 entrance to the high windows ending under the right edge of the Planet Fitness used to be an Acme supermarket—which originally started on Main Street in Flemington before moving in the late 1950s to the then-new strip plaza. It closed in the ’90s.
If you look from above, at the whole plaza, the larger space in the middle was the supermarket, and the large space on the right, now a Staples, was some kind of discount store, possibly a Woolworth’s.
It’s interesting how the façades no longer line up perfectly with the original storefronts.
Then there’s this little gas station building out in Ringoes. Here it is today:
Does it look a little familiar? It’s a “brand building” that’s been repainted:
But wait! You can just make out a roofline hidden behind the wrap-around façade. So Dunkin Donuts actually reskinned an existing building to look like one of their own. So what did that used to be? On Facebook, some folks remember a diner and a video rental store. I’m not sure about the timing, though.
By the early ’50s, there was already a gas station/auto shop there; the current building dates to between 1988 and 1997, according to aerial imagery. It looks like by 2002, it has been reskinned.
These are the little bits and pieces of adaptation that I notice now, which make these landscapes feel a little more deeply settled and a little more lived in.
Bonus: this gas station, owned by an elderly fellow who chatted and pumped gas till he died at an old age, closed recently. Every time we got gas, he’d talk to me, then a little kid in the backseat. His son took over and eventually sold. It will probably be redeveloped now. The place was so old-school, those pumps still had mechanical number dials to measure the gallons and dollars!
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