Zillah Teapot

Historical SignificanceGovernment scandal was behind the construction of the 15-foot handled-and-spouted gas station.  The Teapot Dome oil reserve debacle began during the administration of President Warren Harding.  In 1921, by executive order of the President, control of naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California was transferred from the Navy to the Department of Interior.  In 1922 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall leased, without competitive bidding, the Teapot Dome fields to oil operator Harry F. Sinclair and those at Elk Hills to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum Company.  When the leases became public knowledge, Congress directed President Harding to cancel them.  The Supreme Court declared the leases fraudulent and ruled Harding’s transfer of authority to Secretary Fall illegal.  Although the President himself was not implicated in the transaction that had followed the transfer, the revelations of his associate's misconduct took a severe toll on his health. Disillusioned and exhausted, he died before the full extent of the wrongdoing had been determined.  The transactions quickly became the subject of widely publicized Senate investigation.  Secretary Fall was indicted for conspiracy and for accepting bribes.  Doheny and Sinclair were acquitted of bribery, although Sinclair was subsequently sentenced to prison for contempt of the Senate.  The oil fields were restored to the U.S. Government through a Supreme Court decision in 1927.  It was during 1922 that Jack Ainsworth created his memorial in Zillah.  The Teapot Dome Service Station, located about 15 miles southeast of Yakima in the City of Zillah, take exit 52 remains one of the few tangible, present-day reminders of the 80-year-old scandal. The site was placed on the National Historic Register in 1985.

Brief HistoryThe Teapot Dome Service Station was originally located on Hwy. 410 between Zillah and Granger.  It was handcrafted by Jack Ainsworth in 1922.  He built it inspired by the Harding Administration Teapot Dome Scandal.  The store next to the Teapot was the Old Dalton Trading Co. General Country Store was built by Jack Ainsworths’ father in 1902.  In 1928 Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Thomas purchased the Teapot.  They operated the gas station along with a store fountain built on the same site.  This was an era when gasoline dealers gave people something to look at and tell their friends about when they got home.

In 1978 the construction of I-82 forced the removal of the building from its’ original location.  Five days before the scheduled move it was hit by a car and it was caved in.  It had to be reconstructed which was no easy job because it was all hand-crafted.  Fortunately, the building was reconstructed and then moved with the help of the State Dept. of Transportation some 1.2 miles to its’ current site at 14691 Yakima Valley Highway. 

The Teapot has become an icon for Zillah because of its’ historical roots and longevity. In 2007, the Teapot was listed on the "Most Endangered List. In 2012 the Teapot was moved to its current location at 117 First Avenue, Zillah, Washington. 

It’s Finally HomeOur beloved little Teapot building was moved into Teapot Dome Memorial Park in 2012.  It was completely restored and now serves as the Visitor’s Center/Tourist Destination with historical information and products available at the site.  That site is also home to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial and the Zillah Veterans Memorial. 

Friends of the Teapot AssociationFriends of the Teapot Association is committed to historic preservation and community service through education and resource acquiring methods. 

Friends of the Teapot Association believes that treasuring and respect for the past leads to a brighter future. The rehabilitation of the Teapot Dome Gas Station was just the start of our mission.  Are you interested in volunteering at the Teapot?  For more information contact Sharon Bounds, City Administrator.

Click here to get driving directions 

Contact Friends of the Teapot at:
PO Box 1629
Zillah, WA 98953
509-829-5151

STAFF
TEAPOT INFORMATION:
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