Reed Photo Collection (1903-1916)

Lewis Reed Photos

Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, was a well-known photographer in Montgomery County. Many of his photographs are now part of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Historical Society photo archives. He even developed his own photographs.

About This Collection:

Since I started this blog, I have had the opportunity to look through my grandfather’s extensive collection of photographs from historical locations not only in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia, but all across the country. It occurred to me that with the vast number of photographs in his albums, that this blog would be a great place to highlight them.

With that in mind, the Reed Photo Collection (1903-1916) spotlights the photographs that I have been able to research and identify. There are 45+ blog posts within this section that gives a snapshot of what life was like more than 100 years ago. Highlights include the Black Rock Mill, Rockville Water Tower, Andrew Small Academy, Montgomery County Police Department, Frederick & Rockville Fairs, Trolley Cars, Wright Brothers Airplane, and Rockville High School. Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. Many of Lewis Reed’s photos on this blog have never been published and can be viewed here for the first time. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Click here to take a look back in time and explore the lives of those who have gone before us.

Note: All images are scanned from prints made from Lewis Reed’s original glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives were in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. No touch-up or alteration has been done, in order to retain their historical essence.


Book Release: “Portrait Of An Automobile Dealer” Third Edition

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 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 print-on-demand bookstore. If you would like to check out the hard copy book or purchase a copy, please visit:

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:

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.

Reed Brothers Dodge & Plymouth Service Repair Invoice

Shop Invoice June 28, 1944

Reed Brothers Dodge & Plymouth Service Repair Invoice – June 28, 1944

If you’ve had an automobile repaired recently, you might enjoy seeing this Reed Brothers Dodge Service Invoice No.7577 dated June 28, 1944. Reed Brothers address at the time was 600 East Montgomery Avenue Rockville. The fact that the phone number was just ’67′ gives a real feeling of how different life was back then.

H.L. England’s name is on the invoice and his car was a 1941 Dodge Coupe. Harrison L. England was active in land development of older Rockville, including Lincoln Park and Croydon Park. He was born in a building known as Hungerford Tavern on N. Washington Street and operated a business under the name of Suburban Properties. His father was John G. England, the first mayor of Rockville.

In 1930, Reed Brothers added the Plymouth line. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the brand was given to the Chrysler dealers.

Check out the invoice…  $5.00 labor and 90 cents parts for a total of $5.90!

Lewis Reed Shows Off His “Photoshopping” Skills… 100 Years Ago

If you take a look at the state of photography today, such as the advances of digital cameras and the artful image manipulation by Photoshop, it is easy to forget that back in the 1900s photographers couldn’t just go into a computer program and change their images any way they wanted. They did what they could with the tools they had. Double image exposure was one tool Lewis Reed had in his photography tool belt. He was doing crazy things to images and creating humorous effects over 100 years ago. With double exposure technique, you could create certain effects like placing the same person on both sides of a picture simultaneously. Photographs were pieced together in the darkroom from separate photographs.

Below are eight (circa 1920s) photographs from Lewis Reed’s collection that will make you do a double take. No digital manipulation here. (click on photos to enlarge)

1900s double exposure image

A double exposure image of Lewis Reed’s brother, Edgar, seated on both sides of a table.

1900s double exposure image

Lewis Reed standing on both sides of a steamroller

1900s double exposure image

Another double exposure wonderment. Wanna Fight?

1900s double exposure image

Oh No! What on earth are they doing? I don’t know, but this one is epic.

1900s double exposure image

Don’t Shoot! Lewis Reed is standing both front left and front right in this photo

1900s double exposure image

Surrealistic, ghost-like effect of Lewis Reed standing next to a tree in the middle of train track.

1900s double exposure image

More “photoshop” fun. Lewis Reed pushing the same man in baby carriage on both sides of the photo.

1900s double exposure image

It’s a bird, it’s a plane .. no, it’s a man up in a tree!


The Reed Family (Blacksmithing in Darnestown c. 1870)

Darnestown MD Blacksmith

Philip Reed outside of his Blacksmith Shop in Darnestown, Maryland c. early 1900s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Philip Reed (1845-1918), father of Lewis Reed, was an early settler in Darnestown, Maryland. He was a Blacksmith. Blacksmiths were once important members of the Darnestown community. They provided a vital trade that continued up to the mid-20th century. Born in Darnestown, Maryland on March 17, 1845, he was raised in a family that survived on knowledge and hard work. In 1870, at age 25, his occupation is listed as a Cabinet Maker and Blacksmith. Darnestown residents of that time included a doctor, a merchant, a blacksmith and a wheelwright. It seems Philip Reed may not have considered his primary occupation as a Wheelwright, but I do know that he had a Blacksmith shop on his land and he worked with both cabinet maker and blacksmith skills.

A blacksmith is a metal worker who creates objects from iron or steel by heating the metal and using tools to hammer, bend, and cut it. Civil war armies used blacksmiths to shoe horses and repair things such as wagons, horse tack, and artillery equipment.

A wheelwright is someone who makes and repairs wheels. Early wagon and cart wheels were made of solid wood, but increasingly had iron parts, such as hubs and rims. It would not be unusual for one man to be both a blacksmith and a wheelwright, for wheelwrights were sometimes described as a cross between a carpenter and a blacksmith.

Reed farmhouse and blacksmith shop Darnestown

Reed farmhouse and blacksmith shop in Darnestown, MD (Route 118). Photo by Lewis Reed


1940s Full Service Gulf Station

1940 Reed Brothers Dodge

Reed Brothers Dodge Canopied Gulf Gasoline Station circa 1940

This is a previously unpublished photo of Reed Brothers Dodge full service Gulf Gasoline Station with two gas station attendants standing in front. Professional service was very important in the first half of the twentieth century, so it was common for gas station attendants to wear the company uniform.

Reed Brothers Dodge was the first Gulf gasoline dealer in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1915, they began selling gas at their original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. Their first gas station consisted of a single pump. Later, in addition to gas, they carried a full line of Gulf lubricants, Goodyear tires, Willard batteries, complimentary road maps, free air and water, and many other well known brands of merchandise to meet their patrons needs. Reed Brothers discontinued offering this product line when they relocated to their new facility in November 1970.

Early Car Starters: How Did Old Cars Start?

hand cranked car

Lewis Reed hand cranking an old car. The license plate is MD 10307 dated 1913.

Today, we take the starting of automobiles for granted. Simply place the key in the ignition, turn, and VROOM, the engine starts. Vintage cars from from the 1900s and 1910s were comparatively archaic and limited in their mechanical features. Even starting these old relics was difficult because the process involved a number of complicated steps that the driver had to perform in the correct order.

However, this was not always the case. Hand cranks were the most common type of engine starters in the early days of the automobile. Cars in the early parts of the century had to be started by hand. This was accomplished by turning a crank, usually located in the front of the automobile. The driver would literally “crank the engine” by turning the handle, which would allow the process of internal combustion to begin. After a given number of cranks, the engine would begin to run on its own, and the crank could be removed.

Although hand crank starters were simple and reliable, they suffered from a handful of drawbacks. The main issue with this method of starting an engine is that it is inherently dangerous to the operator. For instance, if an engine kicks back during the cranking process, the operator could get TKO’d by the hand crank. Although many of these cranks used overrun mechanism, there was also a potential for injury if the handle continued to turn after the engine started running.

The other main issue with hand crank starters is that it took a certain degree of physical effort to turn them. That meant anyone who lacked the necessary physical strength or dexterity was incapable of starting a vehicle equipped with this type of starter.

By 1920, nearly all manufacturers were producing cars equipped with starters making it easy for anyone, regardless of physical abilities, to start a car by pressing a button mounted on the dash or floor. An ignition on and starter engage switch operated by a key was introduced by Chrysler in 1949.

1928 Dodge Brothers Standard Six

1928 Dodge Brothers Standard Six had both hand crank and starter. I’m assuming the crank was a backup in case the starter failed. The crank hole cover can be seen just below the front grill. Photo by Reed Brothers Dodge

Several new mechanical innovations were included in the 1946 Dodge Deluxe models. Among them were the introduction of the famous Fluid-Drive, a push-button starter system. The dash-mounted button on the 1946 Dodge Deluxe pictured below activated a solenoid, which in turn engaged the starter. For the first time since 1928 there was no provision made to manually hand crank the engine.

1946 Dodge Deluxe

The push button starter on this 1946 Dodge Deluxe Fluid Drive was located on the far left, below the instrument gauges. Photo by Reed Brothers Dodge.


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