Fry's Spring Service Station: some forgotten history

dish-frysprings-old0905The side service bay of the Fry's Spring Garage in 2007...
dish-frysspringsstation0905...and what it looks like today.

Unlike most restaurant openings, the opening of Fry's Spring Station in the old Fry's Springs Service Station involves the preservation of one of Charlottesville architectural treasures. As the old service station–- which was closed and sold last year after a 70-year run servicing cars–- gets a make-over on its way to becoming a gourmet pizza restaurant, one nearby resident noticed a missing historical entry in our coverage.

“The Houchens family wasn’t the sole owners of the station,” says Piedmont Avenue resident Catharine Settle Anas, speaking of the previous owners who operated the station for more than 40 years. “ In the late 1930s and 1940s, my father, Haynes L. Settle, owned and operated the station.”

Mr. Settle, who went on to found Settle Tire and Supply Company, operated Charlottesville’s first tire recapping machine during World War II “when rubber was scarce,” says Anas, who mentions that her father also operated a moving van business out of the station for a time.

“As young children, my sister and I walked to the station almost daily for a soda and a treat,” she says.

“That old station is a part of our history in this amazing town,” says Anas’s daughter, Suzannah Fischer, who owns the boutique O’Suzannah. “My grandfather, grandmother and parents had a huge hand in the making of this city I call home.”

Anas says she walks down Maury Avenue with her grandson to watch what’s happening at the old station and the new Jefferson Scholars complex, which replaced the Eugene Bradbury-designed residence and fraternity house known as Beta House, a demolition that razed the hackles of local preservationists and led to the strengthening of city preservation zoning.

“Although my grandson is excited about all the great digging and construction equipment we see, he is only two and too young to understand my interest in the buildings themselves,” says Anas. “ I have enjoyed watching the nice changes being made to the old station.”

Fry's Spring Station restaurant is scheduled to open in March.


Place won't have the same authentic charm, though, without cars crammed into the service waiting area, the collection of old model cars stacked on the office shelves, and Jimmy's classic 'Stang parked on the side. The new joint should also have a place for old Al to wander into and sit at.

Jimmy was my mechanic for many years. Always a joy to go to Fry Spring's. While the building will still stand, it'll just be another little bistro now...too bad. Another old Charlottesville standby gone...

In the 1990s, Jimmy repaired my old 1984 Ford Escort so many times, I lost count! They kept me on the road with a smile and good service. What a hard-working group! I always got a kick out of the sodas that were still available in the little bottles, too -- tasted the best of any anywhere.

Perhaps it is just a typo...the neighborhood is the Fry's Spring Neighborhood which is in part included in your headline. Fry is possessive and spring is singular. Thanks so much for making the correction in future stories. This marvelous historical building will continue to have a spot in future history.

Upon my first trip to Charlottesville in 1963 with my parents at the wheel, I can remember us getting lost and pulling into this really nice looking Phillips 76 station. I went inside and saw this wonderful collection of model cars. It made a deep and lasting impression on me that went way beyond getting a tank of gasoline. I was pleased to see that the new owners are in the process of "fixing-up" this beautifully designed building and keep it in living history instead of being in the local history books.