The Shell gas station at 187 Magazine Street was built in 1930, two years before the Shell Oil Company moved its Northeast Regional Headquarters to 875 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, just over the Charles. The famous neon Shell sign, which is now a designated Cambridge landmark, was one of two spectacular, illuminated signs, built by Donnelly Electric Manufacturing Company of Boston in 1933, that used to sit atop of Shell’s 875 Comm. Ave. building.
Pearl Street resident Bill Davis remembers when the sign was brought across the river and set up at the Shell filling station when Memorial Drive opened in 1948. Mr. Davis also remembers that his father, Richard Harding Davis (born in 1900), used to keep his small boat docked where the gas station is now located. During the early part of the twentieth century, long before either Shell building existed, the Charles was still controlled by the tides and Richard Davis’s boat would rise and fall at its mooring throughout the day.
-Compiled by Bill Davis and Alyssa Pacy for “If This House Could Talk…” 2011
(Color photograph of Shell Sign by Lorianne DiSabato: http://hoardedordinaries.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/while-you-can/).