GOLETA, Calif. - Ty Warner announced Thursday morning that he will be donating the historical Barnsdall-Rio Grande Gas Station to the City of Goleta. The site on Hollister Avenue has been abandoned and run down for years, but the city is "thrilled" to now begin plans to improve it.
The station was built in 1929 and served as the entrance to the Barnsdall oil field until it was abandoned in the 1950's. It remained unused until 1980 when it was featured in the remake of the movie The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Mr. Warner has worked with City Councilmember and former Mayor Roger Aceves for the last several years to develop a plan to preserve the station, ultimately deciding to put its future in the hands of the city.
"The city council is committed to make sure all of our historic buildings are restored, because you let them decay and they go away. In this case here, we're not letting this one go away. We're going to fix it," said Aceves.
Originally part of the Sandpiper Golf Course property, (owned by Warner) the Spanish colonial-designed station includes both the notable structure (nearly 500 square feet) and access to the surrounding land.
The City of Goleta plans to conduct a thorough property assessment and work with local experts, historians and residents to determine the next steps for the site.
The official transfer of the property is expected to take place by the end of this year.
Many citizens have signed a petition to save and restore the Barnsdall-Rio Grande site. The effort was led by resident Tom Modugno. He said, " I would like to see it restored and a rest stop with some historical placards around. The building is so small you really can't do too much with it. But I think restoration and a marker that people can read about what happened here, because it has an amazing history."
The station sits next to the Ellwood oil field, one of the top producing sites in the country 90 years ago. It was also shelled in a World War Two attack by a Japanese submarine offshore.
These days it is in a site that is part of a developing section of the city with new housing going up, a fire station is planned nearby and there could also be a new California Highway Patrol office across the street. Nearby is the golf course, and a large open space with trails to the ocean.Slideshow: Ty Warner Donates Iconic Filling Station to City of Goleta
(more information and video will be added here later today)