Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays!

happy holidaysI would like to take this time to wish you a very Happy Holiday season. Wherever your holiday celebration takes you, I wish all of you a safe, relaxing time spent with family and friends.

The special video I have posted below is without a doubt one of The United States Air Force Band’s finest accomplishments. If you have not yet seen the 2016 Holiday Flash Mob, you are in for a real treat. If you have seen it, watch and listen to it again. You won’t be disappointed I assure you. It was my honor and joy to be a part of this organization for 30 years. I am so proud of their continued accomplishments and so very grateful to have been among their ranks.

The United States Air Force Band Flash Mob broadcast from the  National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian in Chantilly, Virginia.

Happy Birthday Lewis Reed! Founder of Reed Brothers Dodge

Lewis ReedLewis 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.

Lewis Reed was just 27 years old when he started selling cars built by brothers Horace and John Dodge in Detroit. Few people jumped onto the Dodge Brothers bandwagon earlier than Lewis Reed, and not many have lasted longer. Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership and service facility less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line.

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.

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 training at the Pierce Arrow factory at Buffalo, New York, the Dodge and Hudson factories at Detroit 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.

Dodge Street RockvilleWhen 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.

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments now stands on the former site of the Reed Brothers Dodge dealership at 15955 Frederick Road. But a sculpture now installed on the property pays tribute to the oldest Dodge dealership in Maryland history. More than 20 feet high, and over 6 feet wide, the public art is inspired by 1939 Dodge headlamps, and the fender of a 1957 Dodge pickup truck.

Blog Author Honored With Peerless Rockville Wagman Award

Peerless Rockville recognized Jeanne Gartner, the author of this blog, with the 2016 Peerless Rockville Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, historians, visual and performing artists, and members of the press and broadcast media whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development. Instituted in 2001, the award is named for Arthur M. Wagman, a founder of Peerless Rockville and its attorney for the first thirty years. The award was presented on Friday, November 18 at Glenview Mansion, one of Rockville’s most beautiful historic properties.

This marks the 37th year that Peerless has presented awards to acknowledge contributions to Rockville’s architectural, and environmental heritage. In that time Peerless has honored nearly 200 individuals and groups for preservation work, quality design and new construction, educational programs, and other projects that contribute to the City’s character and vitality.

It’s hard to put into words just how special it is for me to receive such prestigious recognition. Although my name is on the award, none of the reasons for winning this award for would be possible without my grandfather, Lewis Reed. This award is for him.

Peerless Rockville, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Rockville’s heritage, honored several other organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Rockville’s historic and/or architectural character.

11/14/1914: First Dodge Off Assembly Line

John & Horace Dodge in one of their 1914 Tourers

John & Horace Dodge in one of their 1914 Tourers

One hundred and two 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.

 

October 1915: The Beginning of a Legacy

Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States; the Green Bay Packers did not yet exist; the United States was two years away from joining World War I; the cost of a stamp was two cents, and Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland was founded.

This is when it all began. It was 101 years ago in October 1915 that Rockville automobile pioneer Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, signed a franchise agreement with Horace and John Dodge in Detroit; less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line. Since then, the business grew and transformed from a small-scale garage and dealership into one of the largest and most recognized commercial enterprises on Rockville Pike.

original-1915-rockville-garage-located-at-intersection-of-veirs-mill-rd-and-rockville-pike

This photograph of the original 1915 Rockville Garage shows a 1916 model 44 Oldsmobile with V8 and sedan body parked in front. The original owners of Rockville Garage are standing in front. From left: Roy Warfield – Lewis Reed – Griffith Warfield. (click on photo to enlarge)

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. 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.

Reed Brothers faced another setback during World War II. All U.S. car manufacturers stopped production in order to concentrate on military equipment. Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three plus years. Many car dealers went bankrupt at this time. Lewis Reed converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other large appliances. The brothers operated their own full service Gulf gasoline and service station. In fact, the company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area, selling gas at its original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike.

The dealership survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, the first Chrysler Bailout, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler and the later sale to the private equity firm Cerberus. Reed Brothers has, in fact, survived everything but Chrysler itself. Regrettably, loyalty was not enough to keep the dealership open when Chrysler cut dealership ranks during their 2009 bankruptcy process. After almost 95 years selling Dodges, Reed Brothers was notified by Chrysler that their franchise agreement would not be renewed. Reed Brothers Dodge occupied two locations, the original at the Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike intersection and the second on 355 near Shady Grove Metro.

Today, Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments pays homage to this history by celebrating the golden era of the automobile with commemorative art on the former site of the iconic Reed Brothers dealership.

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments now stands on the former site of the Reed Brothers Dodge dealership at 15955 Frederick Road. But a sculpture now installed on the property pays tribute to the oldest Dodge dealership in Maryland history. More than 20 feet high, and over 6 feet wide, the public art is inspired by 1939 Dodge headlamps, and the fender of a 1957 Dodge pickup truck.

%d bloggers like this: