Manufacturer: Fraunfelter China
User: Pierce Pennant Oil Company
Date of soup plate: late 1920s
Notes: The Pierce-Pennant Oil Company was the successor to the Waters-Pierce Oil Company, founded in 1855 by St. Louis businessmen W.H. Waters and Henry Clay Pierce. Considered one of the oldest oil companies in the United States, the Waters-Pierce Company was a major distributor of Standard Oil Products through the early 1900s, until the US Supreme Court disbanded the Standard Oil Trust in 1911.
In 1924, the company became the Pierce Petroleum Company, and four years later, William Clay Pierce embarked upon a business enterprise to link the chain of Pierce-Pennant gas stations with motor hotels and restaurants. The plan was to establish roadside hotels and taverns approximately every 125 miles on Route 66, connecting Chicago and Los Angeles, and Route 50 to Jefferson City. In July 1928, under the direction of Pierce-Pennant President Edward D. Levy, the company opened the Pierce-Pennant Motor Hotel in Springfield, Missouri. This first motor hotel complex included a bus terminal, restaurant, soda fountain, restrooms, gas station, automobile shop and car washing facilities. Other Pierce-Pennant hotels and taverns opened thereafter in Rolla & Columbia, Missouri and in Miami & Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 1930, Pierce abandoned this business enterprise and sold the chain to Henry Sinclair of the Sinclair Refining Company, who later renamed the chain the Sinclair-Pennant Hotels. Three years later, the Missouri Highway Department moved Route 66 to the Meramec Valley, altering the business traffic for these hotels and taverns, turning many of them into white elephants.
For additional information and photos, see these websites:
Pierce-Pennant Motor Hotel, Springfield, Missouri
Pierce-Pennant Motor Hotel, Columbia, Missouri (National Register of Historic Places)
Pierce-Pennant Tavern, Rolla, Missouri
Big Chief Hotel, Pond, Missouri