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Its location, design, and use make this building one of the most interesting in Pella. First generation Dutch immigrants Henry and Johanna Van Maren built it in 1877 and it was converted into a gas station in 1928. In later years it became a travel agency's office, a realtor's office, and a potter's studio. Its is primarily significant for its location and use as a gas station. Situated along state highway 163, it represents the rising trend in roadside commerce in Iowa during the late 1920s. In terms of design, the building features tall windows, two semi-circular windows and four star-shaped plates on the north facade, stone quoins at the wall corners, and the pump island and canopy. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Henry and Johanna Van Maren House-Diamond Filling Station

Sky, Building, Window, Plant

The Van Marens were two of many Dutch immigrants who fled religious persecution in the Netherlands in the mid-19th century. It appears the Van Marens, as well as Henry's parents, arrived in the first wave that reached what would become the city of Pella in 1847 (the leader of this group was Hendrik P. Scholte and it was he who founded the city). Henry trained as a Blacksmith and eventually became a wagon and carriage maker. In 1862, he and Johanna bought the property on which the building stands under her name. She died in 1912 and Henry remained until he passed away in 1923.

Their two daughters inherited the house but they sold it to Cordelia Vander Linder in 1928. She and her husband, John, converted the house to a filling station and added the canopy (they lived on the second floor of the building). They leased the station to the Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation for five years for an annual rent of $1,020. The company renewed the lease every five years until the Van Marens closed the station sometime before 1953. It is unclear when John died but Johanna continued to live at the house until she sold it in 1967. As noted above, the house was then used for a variety of commercial purposes.

The station appears to have been successful during the entire time of its operation. It was located at an intersection, on a state highway, and near downtown Pella. It was therefore highly visible to motorists, and its attractive, residential design blended well into the neighborhood. In the 1920s, petroleum companies sought these types of attractive buildings on purpose to increase market share.

Page, William C. "Henry and Johanna Van Maren House-Diamond Filling Station." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. July 10, 2008.

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