MIAMI — Already the owner of the historic Miami Marathon Oil service station on Route 66, 19-year-old Eli Chenoweth just purchased Miami’s oldest gas station that dates to the 1920’s.
Built in 1929, the former gasoline station at 331 South Main is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fascinated with history, especially Miami’s history, Chenoweth enjoys watching what other people do when they purchase and restore an old building or home.
Now much of Miami will be watching to see what Chenoweth does with the oldest gas station in Miami that he acquired at a city auction.
It is currently located at A Street NW and 5th Avenue NW. However, Chenoweth hopes to eventually move it to a site next to the Marathon station.
When asked why he felt compelled to buy the oldest gas station in Miami, Chenoweth said, “I have seen it for many years, since I moved here from Welch and before. I absolutely love the details that went into its architecture. I myself am a geek over that kind of stuff and I love architectural salvage. I just basically think of this building I acquired as one giant piece of architectural salvage.
“I’m blessed to be in a position where I can restore it, thanks to the Miami community.”
He gained ownership of the Marathon station two months ago.
“It has its own Route 66 significance,” Chenoweth said. “I would love to be able to put the buildings beside each other, however, that requires a lot of work and compatibility and cooperation with the city. We have to get some things ironed out. It’s a long shot, but that’s where I would like to sit it.”
Chenoweth became an entrepreneur at 15 when he started his own business, The Frozen Elephant, a shaved ice food truck that has become a popular stop on Route 66 first next to the iconic Waylan’s KuKu restaurant on Main Street, and then further north in a spot at Market Square further up on Main.
He’s been setting up on Thursday’s at the Farmers Market at All Saints Episcopal, 225 B NW and just recently on Fridays in front of Security Bank & Trust at 2 S. Main Street.
Chenoweth, who was originally from Welch, also sets up at most special events in Miami and is available for private parties and other events, too.
When talking about his new location at Security Bank, Chenoweth said, “I had a stint where I worked at Security and they obviously wanted to give back to me and I am grateful.”
When asked how it feels to be an entrepreneur at his age, Chenoweth said, “There is still a lot of stuff I haven’t done. I’m ready to broaden myself. I have always been obsessed with architecture stuff and I want to see what I can do. There couldn’t be a better way of expressing myself than restoring these buildings. I think it’s something I could potentially be very proud of, and that the city of Miami could be proud of. I’m trying to be the best owner possible for them.”
The Marathon station is Chenoweth’s current storage facility for his Frozen Elephant business and he says he would love to be fully operational out of there by the time the bridge to the south re-opens.
As far as whether he will restore the old gas station on A Street back to its original look, Chenoweth said, “Everything is up in the air right now. There are a lot of variables and a lot of things go into it. I, myself, have a ton of ideas about what I could do, but there are a lot of moving parts.”