Creston and Union County Visitor's Information Center
Frank Phillips always had a warm spot in his heart for Creston. When the town observed its 75th anniversary in 1947, he remarked, "In my opinion there is no place like the home plate, which is Creston to me."
Frank & Jane Phillips visited Creston many times over the years. In 1930 Mrs. Phillips donated the funds to build a new library building as a memorial to her mother, the late Matilda Gibson. The library is located on the corner of North Maple and Howard Streets in Creston.
One of the first Phillips 66 gasoline stations was constructed in Creston about 1931. In 1994, Shirley Lorimor, owner of the building, generously donated it to Union County and the City of Creston. With the help of community and civic donations and a determined volunteer workforce, the building was moved to the west part of town and restored. It is now used as a tourism/information center.
Union County's Tourism & Information Center, located on Highway 34 and Park Street, houses information and scrapbooks about the Phillips family and information on Union County's many attractions, upcoming events and celebrations.
Period gasoline pumps, the Phillips 66 trademark shield, and Phillips' traditional colors of green and orange have been used to retain the historic value of the building.
The Information Center was dedicated to Frank Phillips, a Union County farm boy and entrepreneur, whose dreams and hard work led him many miles from his beloved boyhood home, but whose heart never left Union County.
Frank Phillips, who founded the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and headed it for many years, was not a native of Creston, but grew up in near by Taylor County and began a career of barbering in Creston when he was fourteen years old.
Phillips was born in Greeley County, Nebraska on November 23, 1873. The grasshoppers scourge in 1874 forced his family to move back to Taylor County, Iowa where Phillips grew to manhood.
During a family excursion to town one Sunday, Frank spied one of the town's barbers, decked out in fancy striped pants called spats, taking a leisurely stroll. Frank then decided barbering was the life for him.
He found a job as an apprentice barber and settled down to learn the trade in Creston. A few years later, bitten by the call of adventure, Frank took his expertise west where he became a barber in the silver fields of Utah.
In 1895, Frank returned to Creston and bought a barbershop located at the corner of Pine and Montgomery Streets. By the time Phillips was 24, he had earned enough money to buy the only other barbershop in Creston.
Not long after his return to Creston, Frank fell in love with the banker's daughter, Jane Gibson. After a few failed attempts to stop the courtship, Jane's father offered Frank a job in the banking business and gave his consent to their marriage.
Frank Phillips and Jane Gibson were married February 18, 1897 in Creston. For a short time Frank sold bonds in New England and Chicago for John Gibson's bank, but his heart wasn't in the job.
In 1903, Frank heard about a new oil field that had been discovered near Bartlesville, Oklahoma in what was then Indian Territory. The spark of adventure was again ignited. He withdrew his savings and headed to Oklahoma.
Frank organized and became president of the Citizen's Bank and Trust company in Bartlesville. He soon found, as he undoubtedly hoped, that banking in Oklahoma extended into the oil operations and his oil interests grew rapidly.
In 1917 he founded, with his brother, L.E., the Phillips Petroleum Corporation. As the company grew, new gasoline stations were opened throughout the country. In 1931 one of Iowa's first Phillips 66 gasoline stations was built and opened on the corner of South Cherry Street and Highway 34 in Creston.
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[top center] The Phillips Family is photographed at their farm home near Creston in 1899.
[bottom left] Frank Phillips, at right, in his first business venture, Iowa Barber Shop in Creston, in 1893.