Sibley’s “Legacy” still on display after more than 90 years in business
Most businesses, especially in smaller towns, have a story or history behind them that makes their presence in the community special and unique and one local business has their history proudly displayed for their patrons to see for themselves.
Legacy Chevron on U.S. 43 may seem like a normal gas station to those who only see it from the outside but for those that stop inside to buy a drink or eat lunch at the station’s deli, a myriad of artifacts – including pictures, a mural and original gas pumps – from the company’s past will be on display as soon as they walk in the front door.
Jim Sibley, president of Sibley Oil Company and owner of the unique gas station-turned-museum, said his intent when he opened Legacy Chevron over a year ago was to pay tribute to his grandfather, Neal Sibley, and his father, David Sibley, both of which owned and operated Sibley Oil Company before he took over.
“My grandfather started Sibley Oil Company in 1919 at a time when the fuel was still delivered by a tank wagon and his mules, Sadie and Sally,” Sibley said. “He opened the first service station in the county in 1920 and he later had the first electric pumps in the county. Two of the pumps that were at that first station now stand inside Legacy Chevron near the front doors.”
Also included in the store is a series of pictures showing how the business progressed over the years – something Sibley said gives the building character and a unique feel you won’t find anywhere else.
The pictures start in 1919 with a picture of Sibley’s grandfather and his two mules next to the tank wagon.
The pictures progress to show the station that stood near the Roxy Theater in downtown Russellville with Mr. Moore and Mr. Malone, great-grandfathers to former Russellville councilman Tinker Malone and current Probate Judge Barry Moore, pictured in front of the station.
A picture of the first tanker truck purchased in the 1920s is displayed near a picture of Neal Sibley with Hobert Grissom in 1937 in front of the gas station near Isbell that Grissom ran. This station also had the first electric pumps in the county.
To make the memories of the company’s history really come to life, Sibley commissioned local artist and friend Doug Allen to paint a mural that is now displayed on the back wall of Legacy Chevron. The mural shows Allen’s interpretation of all these images and also features images of the “oil shed” in downtown Russellville, a 1968 image of the store ran by Charles Scott in downtown Russellville, and an image from 1976 of Neal and David Sibley symbolizing the year when David Sibley took over the company.
“The oil shed is where my grandfather first started working and we took the bricks from there and used them in the construction of Legacy Chevron,” Sibley said. “It was just one more way we could link the past to the present.”
He said the pictures and the mural also show that the company has affected many people’s lives in the county throughout the years.
“The company wasn’t just about my grandfather and dad,” he said. “Other men owned the different stations and allowed several families in this area to get their start in business.”
Sibley said he hopes that Franklin County residents continue to support the businesses that are “hometown friendly.”
“That’s one reason why these locally-owned businesses are so important. These aren’t people from Arkansas or India who run these businesses. They are people from right here in the county,” he said. “You might save two cents on something going somewhere else, but the money spent at locally-owned businesses stays here. The success of local businesses is what can make or break a town.”