The wild wild west! Before the Space Age came to Seattle it was all about the wild west. Entrepreneur Buford Seals dreamed of a western themed shopping complex and in 1953, he hired illustrator Lewis Nasmyth to design a gas station for it.
“Make it really, really different.”
And Lewis did.
For 3 years, Hat ‘n’ Boots Tex Gas Station was the most successful station in the state of Washington. It was located near Route 99, the main thoroughfare connecting Seattle to Everett and Tacoma before Interstate 5 was built in the early 60s. The “Hat” protected the gas pumps from rain and sun while the “Boots” were the restrooms. (For girls- the smaller, white boot and for boys- the bigger, darker boot.)
Before much of his dream shopping complex was built, Buford Seals ran out of money. His zest for life and business continued, as he eventually moved to San Diego where he ran a successful and beloved 24 hour candy store. Buford and his wife (a former trapeze artist with Barnum and Bailey Circus) were known to dress up in matching western outfits and drive around town in a white limo.
In 1988, the gas station closed and the Hat ‘n’ Boots although run-down and almost forgotten never lost their magic. In 2003, the Georgetown Community Council raised enough money to move and restore the Hat ‘n’ Boots. They are part of a new complex happily sitting alongside a children’s playground and community garden at Oxbow Park in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.