On a barren piece of land in Harris County, Texas, just outside of Houston, a discouraged but determined drilling crew struck “black gold” in 1917. Weeks after paychecks from the new Crown Oil and Refining Company had run dry, “Well Number 3” finally spouted oil. However, what flowed from the well was more than just crude oil; it was the foundation of what became the Crown Central Petroleum Corporation. Today, we know it as Crown Central, LLC.
The revenue generated by “Well Number 3” enabled the young company to construct its own refinery. One of the very first refineries built on the Houston Ship Channel, the plant opened in 1920 with lube oil as its only product. But the range of products would begin to grow with the manufacturing of gasoline in 1925. That same year, the company was incorporated as the Crown Central Petroleum Corporation.
Crown's Pasadena, Texas Refinery circa 1925
Crown tank wagon in Houston during 1930s, ready to deliver products to contract dealers in the area.
In 1930, a group of Baltimore-based businessmen led by Mr. Louis Blaustein took notice of the growing Texas company, and bought a 48% share of Crown. Shortly afterward, Crown purchased a tank wagon and began to sell products through a chain of 30 stations in the Houston area.
Five years later, in 1935, Crown went public, listing on the Curb Exchange, the predecessor of the American Stock Exchange. Crown’s success continued as it pioneered the manufacturing of 100-octane aviation gasoline, which the U.S. Navy utilized in its high-performance airplane engines during World War II.
In 1943, Crown opened its first stations in the Baltimore area, marking the start of an extensive marketing campaign.
Retail outlet in Houston in 1930s. Gas was pumped up into the clear glass cylinders near the top of the pumps and dispensed to the cars.
1950's Crown Bay Station with "Dual Chimneys" and "Complete Car Service"
1970's Crown "Multi Pump" concept. Backlit Canopy Fascia and Display Fountain "Save Every Mile!"
1990's Crown Station with "Fast Fare" Convenience Store with "America's Graphic"
1960's Crown Bay Station "Complete Car Service"
1980's Crown "Express Mart" Convenience Store & Modular Fascia
2000's Crown Station with Licensee Branded Convenience Store and "Wave" Graphic
Known as an innovator in the petroleum industry, Crown has been credited with introducing the first licensee program designed to give jobbers and their dealers a wide range of custom alternatives that successfully compete with conventional branding programs.
Today, Crown is an iconic brand with locations serving thousands of people each day in the Mid-Atlantic and the South, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia.