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Automobile dealership?


MikeC5
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This building is in the next town over (New London) from where I live in CT.  I've been meaning to try and research what business it was originally built for but have only been able to determine it's from 1910.  The artillery wheels adorning the front and the garage door-like openings, suggest it might have been a dealership or maybe an auto repair business?  Although in 1910, in a small town like this, I'm not sure they would have had a dedicated auto repair shop.  New London's peak was as a whaling, ship building town but by 1910 I think that was well over.   Square footage is a little under 6000 sq ft, so I think it would have been large enough to house an early dealership.  I tried looking at a few issues of the local newspaper archives from 1910 - 1911 but saw no obvious automobile advertising.  Where else might you look?133892320_46JeffersonAve.NewLondon.thumb.jpg.05c4611dd26baeb6571dbe703725be7e.jpg

Edited by MikeC5 (see edit history)
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Does the library in that town have a local history room? They may have city directories from that era. Those books may have a reverse address directory where you can look up an address and find out what business was there. I have used these vintage books at my local library. These were published every year so you can see changes in occupant from year to year. 

 

The suggestion from the previous poster is the best first step. 

Edited by Tom Boehm (see edit history)
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Yes, but Google is a little off.  The city records it as 46 Jefferson Ave.  The building now used for wine cellar design firm.  It won't hurt to ask if they have any idea on the history of the building.  I will try the local library too.  The wheels sure look like artillery wheels with tires.  Were any buggies made with pneumatic tires?  A telephone book from then might yield a clue...

Edited by MikeC5 (see edit history)
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I've had good luck at County Assessors offices... no matter the state. Another place I've had good luck is LDS libraries. Mormons keep very good records. The LDS library in Mesa AZ has records for New England 1630s. 

 

Definitely a automobile dealership imo. 

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You might also try the local Historical Society.  Sometimes they will keep a listing of vintage and/or historic buildings in their files. 

 

If not, one of their members may know the history too.  Often I find members of a historical society are related to founding or long time members of their community.

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Here in Ohio you could simply go to the city recorder's office, and request copies of the various deeds to the property, going back to 1910. You would either come up with the name of a corporation/proprietor of the building, or an individual. Either one should provide clues that are fairly easy to follow up on. And once you have an individual's name, look up the local genealogical society. There are some amazing folks in that hobby. 

 

Finally, don't overlook the fact that this building may have been refaced at some time after it was built. So, if for example you learn that the first use of it in 1910 was a fish wholesaler, don't give up the vehicle possibility, since a subsequent owner could have had the front remodeled to reflect his car dealership, or etc. 

 

Good luck, and keep us posted! 

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19 hours ago, Ozstatman said:

Could try the local historical society, if there is one. Or local library?

 

8 hours ago, CarFreak said:

You might also try the local Historical Society....  Sometimes they will keep a listing of vintage and/or historic buildings in their files. 

If not, one of their members may know the history too.  Often I find members of a historical society are related to founding or long time members of their community.

 

Excellent ideas, and I think that's the first

place to look for historical information.

 

From what I know of small-town buildings,

I think it would have been a dealership.  A new

dealer may have been more prominent in town

and more likely to use such ornamentation.  The

local repair shop would have had a simpler or

plainer building. 

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True, it could have had a non auto-related original use but if re-faced it probably wouldn't have been past the twenties.  There is a historical society and I do plan to contact them.  It could save a lot of digging.  I agree that the ornamentation seems fancier than one would expect for an auto repair shop.  

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The 1921 New London, CT, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows 3 buildings of a private service-type garage

(and residence) at 40-48 Jefferson Ave. at the intersection of Wall and Grand streets. The structure(s)

in your image at 48 Jefferson are still similarly configured.

 

436348496_Untitlednlc.thumb.jpg.99c4ee75964e9a7e0119ad7f14f0a92d.jpg 

 

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3784nm.g3784nm_g011521951/?sp=34&r=-0.188,0.001,1.5,0.63,0

 

1025738349_Untitlednlc1.thumb.jpg.ce50c104d8e2fca0ada153e67ef9211d.jpg

 

TG

Edited by TG57Roadmaster (see edit history)
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10 minutes ago, Ozstatman said:

I seem to recall that a while ago, in another thread, there was a building with a similar motif/s on its facade. Does anyone remember that thread or can post a link to it?

Was this the one that you were thinking of?  

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I came across the Sanborn maps but could only find the downtown area.  Thanks TG.  Interesting that it shows it as a private garage.  Maybe it was rented out to those wanting to store cars?  It’s not a fancy neighborhood, no mansion needing an elaborate carriage house... curious....

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On 12/13/2020 at 8:31 PM, MikeC5 said:

This building is in the next town over (New London) from where I live in CT.  I've been meaning to try and research what business it was originally built for but have only been able to determine it's from 1910.  The artillery wheels adorning the front and the garage door-like openings, suggest it might have been a dealership or maybe an auto repair business?  Although in 1910, in a small town like this, I'm not sure they would have had a dedicated auto repair shop.  New London's peak was as a whaling, ship building town but by 1910 I think that was well over.   Square footage is a little under 6000 sq ft, so I think it would have been large enough to house an early dealership.  I tried looking at a few issues of the local newspaper archives from 1910 - 1911 but saw no obvious automobile advertising.  Where else might you look?133892320_46JeffersonAve.NewLondon.thumb.jpg.05c4611dd26baeb6571dbe703725be7e.jpg

 

I started looking at the archives of The Day newspaper starting on the Saturday after July 4th in 1910 and moving along each year until 1918. ( My guess was that the Saturday paper would have the most advertisements)  Interesting how fast things changed with the auto ads really starting to take off around 1914.  In 1910 there were a couple of taxi companies and in the fine print of the ad one stated they were an agent for Ford.  The link I added here seems to have the most auto info including a Help column and even a small article on who bought new Reo's.  I did a scan of that date but maybe a closer read with garner more information on this building.

 

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=SrsqWtBqNIQC&dat=19170707&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

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5 hours ago, MikeC5 said:

I came across the Sanborn maps but could only find the downtown area.  Thanks TG.  Interesting that it shows it as a private garage.  Maybe it was rented out to those wanting to store cars?  It’s not a fancy neighborhood, no mansion needing an elaborate carriage house... curious....

 

I imagine it was a privately owned garage that serviced all manner of cars and trucks. Not affiliated with any particular manufacturer.

There were several in my town.

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As you look at the building the area to the right and the door there would have been an office or even perhaps a one room showroom to sell a car in. the center door and door to the left without the brick 2 foot or so lip lower edge like the right area has would have been where cars could have been driven in or out for service. the regular door in between would have been access to the shop area without going into the office for workers , parts delivery etc.

Regarding paperwork to look at of the era to get a clue as to who was there on the premises. City directories were usually issued for larger cities not smaller villages etc at least that is the way it was in the NE section of the USA. Local area telephone books ( for a specific village, town or county) may give a section listing commercial businesses or even had ads in that section. There were also "reverse directories" in some villages that would not list the residents/businesses by alphabetical name but would list the streets alphabetically and if you go to the street name it would then be numerical in order and list what/who was there. Historical societies are good to ask for these but also the area/village historian ( in NY State if you are an incorporated  village it is mandated by state law you have to have an appointed village historian - yes I know this because I am one! ) Have patience with people that are trying to help you out and do not be to demanding because you want the answer asap on your time schedule. I can well understand and appreciate the enthusiasm , but if you are looking to have someone do free research and perhaps spend hours doing so then you are the one required to have the patience. Believe me I have had decades of people asking me questions ( both for car history and local history) who can be very demanding about how you spend your time and effort to provide them with information because they need or want it. Be polite, be patient and don't stamp your foot in annoyance if someone who you know may possibly be of assistance doesn't get to an answer for you asap.

When I first became the historian of the village my family has resided in since 1924 and I joined the state historians association I was told over and over again by that group that " you are a public historian not a private historian " so demands by people for history on their time schedule should be ignored!

 

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Thanks for the additional tips all.  I did send an email to the local historical society but am patient and do not expect them to drop everything to answer my question.  I dig through some more newspapers (The Day) and did find several different brands advertised and dealers located on State St. or Bank St. which are the two principal downtown streets to this day.  Ford, Maxwell, Chalmers, Cadillac, etc.  quite a few by 1918.  I was also looking for anything in the want ads for shops offering auto repair but haven't seen anything yet.  It's fun looking through these papers from over 100 years ago.  

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