Would you spend $400,000 on a facelift for a junked-out gas station?

Name: The Joy Oil station in Logan Circle Alleged repairs: $400,000 Description: Back in 2002, the historic Joy Oil gas station caught fire and destroyed the two small additions that former owner Graham Lehman…

Would you spend $400,000 on a facelift for a junked-out gas station?

Name: The Joy Oil station in Logan Circle

Alleged repairs: $400,000

Description: Back in 2002, the historic Joy Oil gas station caught fire and destroyed the two small additions that former owner Graham Lehman had built into its exterior. That was then, but as of September of this year, the Joy Oil station still sits shuttered. Why? In 2006, Lehman filed for a lien against the city, which wants a cut of any money that’s collected from a second building on 6th Street NW, an actual cinderblock structure that Lehman put in his place after the lightning-induced fire. Lehman’s creditors didn’t care for that part of the plan, so he had to have the building demolished, which cost around $250,000.

Even before the fire, the Joy Oil station looked more like a small convenience store than anything that could be considered historic. The gas station itself dates back to the 1930s and sits just a few yards from the brick building that houses the 12-room Ace Hotel that’s currently under construction. But from the outside, Lehman’s additions might as well have been antiques: a small Peking style door, a Koyamaq-inspired granny emporium. The building’s steep roof makes it pretty clear that no serious work has been done to the exterior in decades.

Both of Lehman’s current occupants made interesting decisions, moving the new bell tower and spa from one of the most famous spots in Washington. Lehman’s business is part of the former LOVE Hotel on 7th Street NW, which hosts events like Love N Train, and Alpha Dog Blues Band. The Ace Hotel is a better fit for a grand building, but it doesn’t look quite right in the vacuum of its newest digs. Surely, there are more awesome projects available in the Northwest neighborhood — why couldn’t Lehman’s gas station just be refitted with modern amenities?

How does Washington’s history archivist feel about this? When one user asked him what the city’s official interpretation of the Joy Oil was on Twitter, Paul Asplund responded: “It’s not historically accurate…why?”

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