Charley’s Automotive Service in Grants named to National Register

The long-closed Charley’s Automotive Service building along Route 66 in Grants, New Mexico, was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation became effective Oct. 4, according to a recent email from the National Park Service. The station is at 1308-1310 W. Santa Fe Ave. (aka Route 66).

The New Mexico Historic Preservation Commission posted information about the service station on its Facebook page a few weeks ago:

Charley’s Automotive Service is a complex of five buildings on the north side of Grants in Cibola County, New Mexico. Charley Diaz was a city of Grants and U.S. Highway 66 entrepreneur who built an automotive service building and the Star Café fronting West Santa Fe Avenue, former U.S. 66. Both are plain buildings and excellent representative examples of a mid-20th-century service building and a roadside café. The automotive service building contains much of the equipment and many of the tools used by Charley Diaz from 1943 until his death in 1995.
Charley’s Automotive Service is significant because the automotive service and the Star Café provided local residents and motorists with important roadside services in the decade before the oil companies standardized the designs of service stations and restaurant franchises began to displace small, locally owned restaurants. Charley’s is also significant because it is an excellent representative example of a late first-generation gas and service station constructed in the mid-20th century in the decade before most national and international oil companies standardized their designs for the purpose of promoting their products.

More may be found with the National Register nomination petition here.

An article from 2010 about the Charley’s property indicated local officials nominated it to the National Register at the time. An article from the now-defunct Cibola County Beacon had this to report about Charley’s:

Diaz’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Capelli, an Italian-born stonemason partnered with Diaz in constructing five buildings on the site. In the early 1940’s, their use of pumice-block materials was innovative. Pumice block has sufficient compressive strength for building construction. In addition to better insulating qualities, it has less weight than cement block.

The newspaper also reported the building’s owner, Joseph Diaz, was seeking help from a number of agencies, including the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, to restore and revitalize the building.

Here are two images of Charley’s from its heyday. The first photo of the station is from 1949. The second shows Charley Diaz and his son, Joseph Diaz, at the station in 1954.

(Images by New Mexico Historic Preservation Division via Facebook)

3 thoughts on “Charley’s Automotive Service in Grants named to National Register

  1. Restore … Is it always the good thing to do ? Maintain and protect these building in their state can be an alternative.
    Closed and abandoned buildings are part of route 66’s decline and history.

    Sorry for my English.
    A route 66 fan from France.

  2. Driven by it many times, taken a few photos as well. Interesting to note that it was built before they widened 66 from NW of Milan to the west edge of town, which would have displaced the pumps in that shot. The widening also would’ve required cars to literally pull in/out of the repair shop right off the street! Must’ve been fun to watch that go down on what was in it’s day a very busy stretch of highway…

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