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A miniature palace of petroleum, this Barnsdall Oil Co/Rio Grande Oil Co. filling station is a forlorn reminder of Santa Barbara’s oil boom era.  The station was built in 1929, just a few hundred yards from where the initial strike of the Ellwood Oil Field was made the previous year.  An adjoining restaurant, no longer extant, was built in 1930 to provide one-stop service for motorists traveling the region’s spectacular coastal highway.  Filling stations were among many commercial structures well suited to Spanish Revival guise; this rare two-story example was designed by the prestigious Los Angeles firm of Morgan, Walls, & Clements, one of the foremost practitioners of the style.  It features a cornice of Churrigueresque ornament that dips down to engulf the bull’s-eye window on each of the tower’s faces, along with a remarkable Tunisian cupola that caps the whole ensemble.  Despite its stucco finish and fireproof barrel-tile roof, the station was framed of combustible wood, and featured exposed wooden beams on the canopy.  By the 1930s, safety concerns had largely replaced wood construction with porcelain-enamel panels over steel framing, which also suited the increasingly Moderne tastes of the era.