Efforts to Save the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station Gain Momentum

Walley's Service Station


Through their relentless fundraising efforts to save the unique house style gas station once  known as “Walley’s, the Waukesha Preservation Alliance announced that the organization has received donations totaling  $17,250 for the acquisition and preservation of the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station located at 422 E. Broadway.  More than seventy individuals and businesses have contributed to the fundraising effort, and 521 people have signed a petition signifying a strong interest in saving this historic structure.  Despite their efforts, however, the fate of Walley’s Service Station ultimately lies in the hands of the City of Waukesha Landmarks Commission,  who will decide this Wednesday, September 7th whether or not to grant a request by the Waukesha YMCA to rescind the “Landmark” status.  If the landmark status of the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station is removed, the Waukesha YMCA will move forward with their plans to demolish the structure to expand their parking area.

Parties of Interest
Several possible buyers have expressed their interest in the property.  To date one written offer and at least one verbal offer to purchase the structure have been rejected by the YMCA because their offers fell below the asking price of $159,000.  If they are hopeful to have the landmark designation rescinded so they can move forward with the demolition of the landmark, the YMCA has the burden of demonstrating that they made reasonable efforts in good faith to locate a buyer.  However, expecting a potential buyer to pay $159,000 for a property with an equalized value of $124,500 may be construed as unreasonable, especially in light of the current state of our economy.
The YMCA paid $152,500 for the property and made subsequent repairs, therefore it is their position that asking $159,000 is only fair because they cannot afford to take a loss.  Nevertheless, whether the YMCA made a bad investment should not serve to undermine the integrity of a landmark designation, nor should it serve to repudiate their obligation to make reasonable efforts in good faith.

It’s Not about the Money
While the YMCA is focusing primarily on the monetary aspect of their interest in the property, it is the duty of the Landmarks Commission to “protect, enhance and perpetuate the City’s cultural, social, natural, economic, political and architectural history as embodied and reflected in improvements, landmarks, landmark sites and historic districts,” of the City of Waukesha. Waukesha City Ordinance, §28.01.  Further, the purpose of designating a structure as a landmark should be in furtherance “… that protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of features of special character, historical interest or value is required in the interest of the people,” Ibid.  The potential financial loss of the Waukesha YMCA, who is a part of the largest non-profit community service organization in America, should fall only second to preserving our city and community.

Other Alternatives to Preserve the Landmark
Despite the YMCA’s clear intent on demolishing this historical landmark from the onset of their development plans, the question remains as to why they would not wish to preserve this vital piece of Waukesha history and simply come up with another plan?  Granted, the YMCA wishes to procure this property to make more parking available for their plans to develop a 63-unit apartment that would provide housing for people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other mobility-impairing illnesses, but surely other alternatives are available.

  • Perhaps the YMCA could consider entering into a concerted effort with the Waukesha Preservation Alliance to preserve Walley’s Service Station and convert it into a city welcome center and wayside for bicyclists?
  • Perhaps the YMCA would consider building a parking structure that could offer ample parking spaces for the developments the YMCA has planned?

The Nature of the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station
This is the last maintained house style gas station of this kind in Waukesha, and there do not appear to be any others of this type throughout the entire state.  There once was a second Bartles-Maguire Gas Station located at the end of Main Street just kiddy corner from what is now Veterans Park.  Many people will remember this as the Pizza Corner, which has subsequently been demolished and is now a parking lot.

Do we really need another parking lot in Waukesha?

Please help support the preservation of the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station by making donations to the Wisconsin Preservation Alliance .

If you have an interest in saving the Bartles-Maguire Gas Station please show your support by attending the Landmark Commission hearing this coming Wednesday, September 7th at 6:00 p.m., at the Waukesha City Hall, Room 207.

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