Lew Williams Chevrolet Dealership by National Register on Flickr.
Eugene, Lane County, OR
Car dealerships generally aren’t known for their great architecture, but the Lew Williams Chevrolet Dealership is an exception. With its character-defining “space age” display pavilion – influenced by the International building style – it has long served as an icon of modern design for the city of Eugene, Oregon. So much so, that the pavilion, considered “the strongest example of Googie in Eugene,” is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to becoming a car dealership, the c. 1949 building was actually home to a Coca-Cola bottling plant, but when the plant moved in the late 1950s, Lew Williams, who already had a dealership downtown, bought it for its prime location next to the newly widened Highway 99. The site needed a little sprucing up though, so he consulted with Balzhiser, Sedar, and Rhodes, a local architecture firm. The result was the c. 1960 attachment of a one-story, elliptical building with floor-to-ceiling windows and a “potato chip” style roof, which attracts admirers even today. The building was sold to Joseph Romania in 1969 and remained a Chevrolet dealership until 2005 when the University of Oregon purchased it. Considered significant for its association with the changing transportation infrastructure and automotive patterns, and as an outstanding example of post-war modern era commercial architecture, the dealership was listed in the register on June 1.
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