In September 2012, I created a self-published book version of this blog, entitled “Portrait of An Automobile Dealer”. In short, it’s an updated and chronologically ordered version of this blog. A second edition was published in place of the first edition, which was released in 2013. Now, after five years, the third, and final edition, is available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. Overall, since the second edition, “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer” Third Edition has expanded to 224 pages and is enhanced by over 600 photographs, some of them more than 100 years old, taken by Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. The third edition again has loads of small updates, including a new chapter: “Celebrating a Legacy”.
In this book, readers will find an historic timeline that showcases the company’s 95-year history, how Reed Brothers Dodge came into being, and how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges throughout almost a decade of being in business. “This book is of interest not only to those of us who remember Reed Brothers Dodge, but to others who wish to get to know Rockville as it was before they arrived”, said Jane C. Sween, former librarian at the Montgomery County Historical Society.
The author puts the former Dodge dealership in perspective by demonstrating that the dealerships influence continues to this day on the site of its former location, now the Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments. “Honoring the rich historical legacy of this site was extremely important to us,” said Tom Keady, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Bainbridge Companies. “With the sculpture and the floor plan names, our residents and visitors feel a real connection to the site’s past, and we pay tribute to Reed Brothers Dodge’s role in creating a vibrant Rockville.”
Blog creator and book author, Jeanne Gartner, received the 2016 Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development. The book is an “exemplary effort to inform, establishing a virtual commemoration of a landmark, which lacks surviving tangible form”, noted Peerless Rockville.
The book “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer, Third Edition” is available through Blurb.com print-on-demand bookstore. If you would like to check out the hard copy book or purchase a copy, please visit: http://www.blurb.com/b/7746815-portrait-of-an-automobile-dealer-third-edition
As a special thank you to all the readers of this blog, this book has been placed online for everyone to enjoy for free. A complimentary eBook available for Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPad, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers is also available through Blurb: http://www.blurb.com/b/7746815-portrait-of-an-automobile-dealer-third-edition?ebook=614233
Note: It’s worth noting that Print-On-Demand (POD) books, are usually more expensive per copy than a book printed via offset printing. That’s because offset printing (the method used for most mass-produced books found in bookstores) requires a minimum order of 500-1,000 copies. Print on demand, on the other hand, needs only a minimum order of one copy. The smaller scale and different workflow results in a higher cost per book, since the books are only printed when they are ordered. This book is not marked up for profit; but sold at base price.
To show support to preserving the Dodge legacy, the author of this blog has “adopted” a Dodge car — a 1925 Dodge Brothers Depot Hackney — one of the historic vehicles in the Meadow Brook Hall Dodge Brothers automobile collection.
The inscription on the Adoption Certificate reads:
adopted by Jeanne Gartner in memory of her grandfather, Lewis Reed, who founded Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland in October 1915.
Depot Hackneys, later called station wagons, were designed to transport tourists and luggage from train stations to area hotels. Several companies made the wooden bodies, which would be installed on the chassis of different brands of cars. This truck is a very rare piece of Dodge history. Today, we call this type of vehicle a Taxi, which is what the word Hackney means. “Hack” is an abbreviated form of Hackney.
Madelyn Rzadkowolski, Curator at Meadow Brook Hall added, “The 1925 Depot Hack needs some work so your contribution in memory of your grandfather will really make a difference. Among other things, it needs new tires… two of them went flat last weekend when we were winterizing the cars.”
The vehicle was adopted for a period of one year, beginning November 14, 2017 through November 13, 2018 (November 14 is the anniversary of the day John and Horace Dodge revealed their first car in 1914). The adoption will help Meadow Brook make necessary repairs, provide preventative maintenance and pay insurance for the Depot Hack, ensuring it’s there to inspire, educate and “drive” this and future generations. Lewis Reed is a perfect and most fitting parent.
MEADOW BROOK HALL in Rochester Hills, Michigan was the estate of one of the world’s wealthiest and influential women of her time, Matilda Dodge Wilson. Matilda was the wife of John F. Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company. Named a National Historic Landmark in 2012, MEADOW BROOK HALL strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.
Today marks forty seven years since the Grand Opening of Reed Brothers Dodge new showroom and service facility. When the state widened the roads in 1970, Lee Gartner purchased 4.37 acres of land from Eugene Casey and relocated Reed Brothers Dodge to a new state-of-the-art showroom and Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep service complex on Route 355 at 15955 Frederick Road in Rockville Maryland.
Turning out to honor the company were several hundred dignitaries, officials, businessmen and friends. The new building, a complete automotive sales and service facility marked Reed Brothers 55th year of selling Dodge’s. The state-of-the-art dealership contained the newest customer-focused features throughout which combined technology and comfort.
The new dealership provided a modern new vehicle showroom, 30 service bays, a comprehensive detail and car wash area, Parts Department, Body Shop, the newest technologies to service customer’s vehicles and provided customers with a convenient location to purchase and service their vehicle needs.
Design and construction of the new dealership was managed by the Glen Construction Company.
Lewis Reed was born in Darnestown, Maryland on November 25, 1887 and was the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. When Lewis Reed opened his car dealership in October 1915, he never knew he was starting a family tradition that would be carried out for 97 years and three generations. He founded what would become the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in the state of Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.
In 1914, Lewis Reed became a partner in Rockville Garage, a business he purchased in 1918. His brother Edgar joined the business in 1919 upon his return from World War I, and the name became Reed Brothers Dodge. Lewis Reed was the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland and his company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area. During the early years, Reed Brothers represented several franchise nameplates along with Dodge, including Oldsmobile, Hudson and Essex. The Hudson and Oldsmobile were sold at Reed Brothers from roughly 1917 through 1921.
Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson along with Dodge. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers from 1930 until 1969, when the Plymouth car was given to the Chrysler dealers. In 1928, when Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died, Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family. By 1929, when the stock market crashed and Great Depression began, nobody could afford to buy cars. Like most other businesses, the Great Depression hit hard and Reed Brothers had to rely on its Service Department to make ends meet.
Before becoming interested in automobiles, Lewis Reed was one of the original employees of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, a Georgetown-based manufacturing firm that eventually became International Business Machines, Inc. He received his automotive training at the Pierce-Arrow factory in Buffalo, New York, the Dodge Hamtramck and Hudson Motor Car factories in Detroit, Michigan, and the Washington Auto College.
When World War I broke out, Lewis Reed along with many other patriotic men joined the war effort. He did his bit in World War I by working at the Navy Yard in Washington DC as a torpedo tester.
Lewis Reed was very active in his community and in his church. He was a member of the Gaithersburg Grace Methodist Church, where he served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Stewards, a Lay Leader and President of the Men’s Bible Class. He was a charter member and Past President (Feb 1933 – Feb 1937) of the Gaithersburg-Washington Grove Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the advisory board of the Rockville branch of the First National Bank of Maryland. Lewis Reed belonged to the Masonic Lodge of Rockville, the Pentalph Chapter of the Eastern Star and the Rockville Rotary Club. He was a Rotarian for 34 years and also had served as President of that group.
Active in the dealership daily until the day of his death, Lewis Reed died on January 28, 1967 at the age of 79. Shortly after his death, the Senate of Maryland passed SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 10 honoring the well-known Rockville automobile dealer for his personality and outstanding contributions. The resolution was sponsored by Senator Thomas M. Anderson, Jr and Senator Louise Gore. At the time of his death, he was in negotiations with the State Roads Commission on the Commission’s proposal to take over a portion of his business property for construction of an interchange at Rockville Pike, Hungerford Drive and Veirs Mill Road.
In recognition, the state of Maryland named the connector street behind the original location, “Dodge Street,” commemorating Reed Brothers’ presence from 1914-1970. When the state widened the roads in 1970, the dealership relocated to Route 355 at the Shady Grove Metro.
When you look back and consider what has taken place in the world in the past 100 years or so, you gain a perspective of what Lewis Reed faced. He overcame a lot of obstacles throughout his life. He steered his dealership through World War I, The Great Depression and World War II. When Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three and a half years and many dealers went bankrupt, he converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other appliances. Reed Brothers Dodge occupied two locations, the original at the Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike intersection and the second at 15955 Frederick Road in front of the Shady Grove Metro.
Lewis Reed set an outstanding example through his success, but more importantly through his sacrifices and commitment to the community he served. Today, Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments pays homage to the oldest Dodge dealership in Maryland with commemorative art on the former site of the iconic Reed Brothers dealership.
One hundred and three years ago on this date – November 14, 1914 — the very first Dodge car, “Old Betsy”, rolled off the assembly line. On that day, the Dodge Brothers (Horace and John) were photographed riding in the rear seat of the first car to bear their last name. It cost $785, had a 110-inch wheelbase, and was powered by an L-head 4-cylinder engine that proved so reliable it was continued until 1920 with very little modification. Total production for 1914 was a mere 249 touring cars. The following year, Dodge offered a two-passenger roadster which also sold for $785 and the plant went into full production.
According to “The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy” by Charles K. Hyde, here’s the full story:
The widely accepted history of the initial production of early Dodge Brothers automobiles in November 1914 is at odds with much of the evidence about the earliest Dodge Brothers cars. Automotive historians have thought that the first production car, later named “Old Betsy,” came off the assembly line at the Hamtramck factory on 14 November 1914. Guy Ameel, superintendent of final assembly for Dodge Brothers since the start of automobile production, served as John and Horace’s chauffeur that day. With the brothers in the back seat, Ameel stopped the first Dodge Brothers car in front of John Dodge’s mansion on Boston Boulevard in Detroit and a photographer recorded this important moment.
“Old Betsy” was more likely an experimental prototype car assembled several months before 14 November 1914 and not a production car at all…
The Dodge Brothers began an aggressive advertising campaign to promote their new automobiles and to attract potential dealers to sell their cars. Lewis Reed was an enterprising young man who put his future in the fledgling automobile industry. In 1915 he received his franchise to sell Dodge Brothers Motor Cars from John and Horace Dodge; less than one year after “Old Betsy” rolled off the assembly line. Lewis Reed and his brother Edgar, were the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland. That made Reed Brothers the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.
In anticipation of Halloween, I thought it would be fun to feature a photograph that Lewis Reed took of Saylorsburg Lake House Hotel, now the site of Hotel of Horror. The old Lake House Hotel, depicted in the photo above taken by Lewis Reed in 1915, was once a vibrant Poconos retreat and a popular hotel for tourists. According to local folklore, during World War II, many of the employees at the Lake House were called to assist in the Pennsylvania National Guard, leaving the local asylum with one lone security guard to watch over the entire building. The inmates escaped, made their way to the hotel and took it over. The insane patients performed experiments on the guests. What was once a renowned resort for the rich and famous, shown here in 2001, became a torture chamber.
Today it’s the site of the Hotel of Horror, a haunted-house attraction open during the Halloween season.
Happy Halloween to all the readers of this blog!