1914-1920s

Lewis & Edgar Reed 1914-1920

The Reed Brothers

Lewis Reed was just a young man when he started selling cars built by brothers Horace and John Dodge in Detroit. In 1914, the Dodge brothers had been producing car components for Henry Ford when they decided they could build their own cars. 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 in 1915; less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line.

1915 Original Rockville Garage

Original 1915 Rockville Garage located at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike

In  1914, Lewis Reed became a partner in Rockville Garage with Robert L. and Griffith Warfield. The Warfield brothers had purchased this building in July 1915, from Lee Ricketts and Sons who had the Overland Agency. The business continued to operate under the old name until it was changed at the suggestion of the late Judge Edward Peter shortly after Edgar Reed joined his brother.

new car showroom

New Car Showroom

This new car showroom is filled with late 1920s Dodge Brothers new car models. The high ceilings and mezzanine floor gives an air of elegance to the showroom and the expanse of windows on the front extends the full width of the building. The showroom faced the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike which gave the dealership maximum visibility to a large volume of cross traffic.

In the background under the arched column is the Bookkeeper’s desk, who at the time was probably Arthur Watkins. The upper floor mezzanine housed the dealership’s Parts Department and storage area. Leo (Pat) Murray started in 1925 and was the Parts Department Manager. Pat worked at Reed Brothers for more than 21 years. To the right of the stairs is Evelyn Beane’s desk, Reed Brothers’ administrative secretary. To the left of the stairs is the Gulf Gasoline service counter displaying various merchandise.

The showroom led to the Service Department at the rear of the building which was how new cars were moved in and out of the showroom. There were 2-3 additional offices in the back of the showroom. One belonged to Edgar Reed (Lewis’ brother) who was generally in charge of the “front end” of the business; new car and truck sales. The other office belonged to Lewis Reed, who was never known to spend a lot of time in his office sitting behind a desk. He could always be found in the “back end” of the business; Service, Parts and Body Shop.

There were no salesman’s desks in the showroom until after World War II. Lewis Reed allotted specific sales territory to his salesmen in four different directions from the dealership. The salesmen spent all day in the outlying areas of Poolesville, Rockville, Barnesville and Spencerville demonstrating cars to potential customers. At that time, Reed Brothers was selling about eight new cars a month and most sales resulted from knocking on people’s doors. Three of the four salesmen at the time were Francis O. Day, Raleigh S. Chinn and Benjamin J. Thompson. Benjamin Thompson of Colesville joined Reed Brothers in 1917 as Salesman and stayed for 30+ years. Raleigh S. Chinn of Rockville started as Salesman with Reed Brothers in 1920.

Original Owners Rockville Garage

1916 – The original owners of Rockville Garage. From left: Roy Warfield – Lewis Reed – Griffith Warfield

The first shop force of Rockville Garage consisted of Lewis Reed, Phillip Reed and (first name unknown) Long. A mechanical aptitude was necessary to be a dealer in the early 1900’s. When cars were shipped to the dealer from the manufacturer, they arrived partially assembled in railroad boxcars. It was the dealer’s responsibility to unpack and assemble the cars at the rail yard and drive them back to the dealership. Mechanics were often needed to repair the new cars if they broke down along the way.

Lewis Reed 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. Pierce-Arrow was once one of the most recognized and respected names in the automobile industry. For 38 years, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company in Buffalo, New York, produced some of the finest automobiles made.

In 1918, Lewis Reed bought out Rockville Garage from the Warfield’s and changed the name to Reed Brothers Dodge.

FIrst Shop Force

1916 – The First Shop Force: Lewis Reed, (first name unknown) Long and Phillip Reed.

vintage Dodge cars on the way back from train station

This line of cars with Maryland Dealer license plates are on their way back from the train station to the dealership with new model cars. The car at the rear appears to be getting a helping hand to change a flat tire.

1920s MD dealer car

Dealer car stopped (stuck?) on snowbound Goshen Road in rural Gaithersburg. Note the trailing cars slowly making their way up the hill. Although no tire chains are in evidence, they might have been useful coming up that hill.

1915 Rockville Garage First Gas Station – A Single Pump

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, (circa 1917) they became an authorized Texaco Filling Station and sold Texaco gasoline, also from a single pump. At some point prior to 1920, Reed Brothers Dodge became a Gulf Gasoline dealer. Reed Brothers Dodge was the first Gulf gasoline dealer in the Washington, D.C. area.

1915 Rockville Garage First G as Pump

1915 – Rockville Garage first gas station – a single pump. View looking West on Main Street of Rockville showing early Trolley car. Also in the background is the old St Mary’s Cemetery.

1917 Reed Brothers Dodge Texaco Filling Station
1917 Original Rockville Garage with 2 story addition. Note the Texaco Filling Station signage and the Texaco Petroleum fuel truck refilling the single pump in front.

1917 Original building with 2 story addition. Note the Texaco Filling Station signage and the Texaco Petroleum fuel truck refilling the single pump in front.

1917 Reed Brothers Dodge

1917 – Texaco Petroleum Truck “posing” in front of Reed Brothers. In the background is Old St Mary’s Church

Rockville Garage - the gang's all here!

This circa 1915 photograph shows some of the original sales and service staff of Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage.

When the United States entered World War I, Lewis Reed worked at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC as a torpedo tester.

As America recovered from World War I, the growing automobile industry began to take shape. Technology began to make its way among all the manufacturers. Dodge capitalized on what it had learned building scout cars for the U.S. Army and the punishment they endured on the European battlefields and applied those great rugged attributes to civilian vehicles. In 1920, it was this durability that really solidified Dodge’s reputation for dependability and propelled the brand to the number two spot United States by producing over 141,000 vehicles.

1917 Rockville Garage

1917 Original Rockville Garage with 2 story addition. At the left side of the two story building was a narrow vehicle entrance that led to the service department in the rear. A house can be seen behind the addition. Lewis Reed later purchased the remaining home lots (6 total) to expand his dealership in the back. Note the dirt surface of Veirs Mill Road.

1918 Two Story Addition to Original Shop. View From Rear

1918 Two Story Addition to Original Shop. View From Rear

1918 Two Story Addition to Original Shop. View From Side

1918 Two Story Addition to Original Shop. View From Side on Rockville Pike. The first floor housed the Service Department and upper floor was used for parts storage. The chimney was probably to the furnace that was used to heat the building. The many windows allowed natural light for working on cars.

In 1919, Lewis Reed’s brother Edgar joined him in the business. Reed Brothers Dodge was the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland. Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge. Later they became Dodge Plymouth dealers.

Fisk Tires

This photo was taken in 1915 by Lewis Reed in front of the original Rockville Garage. Old St Mary’s Church is in the background. Note the unpaved dirt road on Veirs Mill Road. Rockville Garage was a distributor of Fisk Tires until circa 1918, when they replaced it with the Firestone brand. The car is a 1916 Studebaker Roadster.

Reed Brothers

Horsemobile? This fun and interesting photo was taken by Lewis Reed circa 1915. The photo shows Will Beall with his car broken down in front of St Mary’s Church, and his younger brother “towing” him to Reed Brothers, which was located just across the street. The car appears to be a very early Dodge Touring.

1918: Rockville Garage Displaying New Cars at Rockville Fair Grounds

An annual County Fair used to be held for four days in the month of August at the old Fairgrounds of Rockville, Maryland. Families came from every section of the Montgomery County in wagons and carriages, and stayed for the duration of the Fair. The Fair also gave automobile dealers the opportunity to display their new models.

Below is new car show time as fair-goers get their first glimpse at the latest models that Rockville Garage had to offer. Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge.

1918 – Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds

1918 – Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds

Rockville Garage at Fairgrounds

Anybody for a demonstration drive? Identified by the triangle logo on the grill and the number of passengers seated in it, the car appears to be a 1918 Hudson Super Six Seven Passenger Touring.

Hudson Super Six, Oldsmobile, and Dodge Brothers Motor Cars on display

Hudson Super Six, Oldsmobile, and Dodge Brothers Motor Cars on display. Lewis Reed is seated in the drivers seat of the Rockville Garage Service Truck.

At Your Service Rockville Garage

At Your Service Rockville Garage

Rockville Garage Sales & Service Staff circa 1920s

Rockville Garage Sales & Service Staff circa 1920s. Back Row, standing left to right: name unknown, Charles Case Merry, Lester Wilson, Leonard Beall, John William Norris, name unknown, Leo C. Murray. Second Row: name unknown, name unknown, Otis Beall, Philip Reed, Aubrey Souders, Arthur Souders. Front row, middle: Walter (Bud) Beall. Lewis Reed’s brother, Philip (boxed in the middle) came to work for Reed Brothers as a mechanic in 1916. The men dressed in uniforms were Gulf gas station attendants. The identities of the other men in the photo are unknown.

Other Original Employees

Raleigh S. Chinn, Rockville, started as Salesman with Reed Brothers in 1920
Evelyn Beane, Administrative Secretary
Paul F. Wire, Bookkeeper
W. Lester Wilson, Rockville, started in 1918 as Shop Foreman and stayed for 28 years
Alfred Fraley, Redland, started in 1917 as a mechanic and stayed for more than 30+ years
Benjamin J. Thompson, Colesville, started in 1917 as Salesman and stayed for 30+ years
Phillip Reed (a brother), started in 1916 as a mechanic. Phillip was a part of the first shop force and stayed with the company until 1944
Grafton Reed (a brother), worked as a mechanic in 1921
Leo (Pat) Murray started in 1925 and was the Parts Department Manager. Pat worked at Reed Brothers for more than 21 years
Richard C. Burdette, Rockville, mechanic
John Burdette, Gaithersburg, Gas Station Attendant
Marvin Shultz, Gas Station Attendant/Salesman. Stayed with Reed Brothers his entire career
Mary Ann (Slater) Beall, Rockville, Bookkeeper
Guy Merry
Clyde Souders

First Newspaper Advertisement

The advertisement below, distributed by the Oldsmobile Sales Company in the June 29, 1919 edition of  the Washington Post is probably the very first advertisement in which the Rockville Garage appeared. Dealers are listed in fine print at the bottom: note Rockville Garage, Rockville, Md, which is highlighted in yellow. Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge. (click images to enlarge)

Washington Post 1919

Washington Post 1919

1920's Reed Brothers Dodge

1920’s Reed Brothers Dodge at the Triangle in Old Rockville at the intersection of Viers Mill Road and Rockville Pike with Gulf Gasoline drive-through filling station. Trolley car tracks can be seen on the right on Rockville Pike.

1920s with Gulf Gasoline

1920’s Reed Brothers Dodge view from side. In front is a large sign that reads “That Good Gulf Gasoline”. In the background is the old St Mary’s Church and Cemetery in Rockville. Trolley car tracks passed by Reed Brothers on Rockville Pike.

In 1921, Dodge Brothers agreed to market Graham Brothers medium-duty trucks through its dealerships; in turn, every Graham vehicle utilized a Dodge engine. This partnership provided Dodge dealers with a full line of trucks to sell in addition to the highly regarded Dodge passenger cars, and the resulting sales increases prompted Dodge to buy the Graham Brothers firm.

Reed Brothers Becomes An Original Member of the Chrysler Family

In 1928, Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died and Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the Plymouth brand was given to the Chrysler dealers.

The year of the stock market crash that began the Great Depression, nobody could afford to buy cars. Like most other businesses, the Great Depression hit hard and most dealerships had to declare bankruptcy. Reed Brothers had to rely on its Service Department to make ends meet. But, the dealership survived through these lean times.

First Car Invoice

June 22, 1921 was no doubt an exciting day for Mr Henry C. Brown, as that was the day he purchased a brand new 1921 DODGE BROTHERS TOURING CAR  from Lewis Reed’s Rockville Garage. The car was sold for $1050.00 and signed for by Edgar Reed. The logos on the invoice below are the original Dodge Brothers Motor Cars and Oldsmobile Sales Company logos.

1921 Dodge Brothers Touring Car Invoice Signed By Edgar Reed

1921 Dodge Brothers Touring Car Invoice Signed By Edgar Reed

Montgomery County Police Department

Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. Pictured left to right: Earl Burdine, Lawrence Clagett, Guy Jones, Chief Charles Cooley, Leroy Rodgers, and Oscar Gaither. (click image to enlarge)

In 1922, Montgomery County was farm country, sparsely populated, automobiles sharing dirt roads with horse-drawn wagons. But it was changing into a proper suburb, and there needed to be a police department. They didn’t have much beyond their badges. Their only training was on riding motorcycles, and there was no office; instead, they met at the steps of the county courthouse. If they needed to cart someone to jail, the prisoner often had to ride along on the motorcycle, handcuffed. Still, there were bootleggers and chicken thieves to chase down, traffic accidents to set them into action. By 1927, the department would more than triple in size, but no other officers would have to learn their job the way this squad did. (Source: Planet Washington, Backlight)

Reed Brothers Dodge got a new facelift and remodel in 1922

Reed Brothers Dodge got a new facelift and remodel in 1922. Note the modern gas pumps. The Rockville Fair Grounds are beyond the boarded fence.

1927 New Awning

All ready for new owners. Note the 1927 license plate and the new awning on the front of the building.

1927 Reed Brothers Dodge Front

1927 – Three of the crew are seen posing with Dodge Commercial Cars.

7 responses to “1914-1920s”

  1. chris hall says :

    amazing history!!! great read. im a antique sign dealer and seeing those old garage signs and dodge signs are awesome. im from the dc area as well so its great to see what rockville used to look like

  2. s.thompson says :

    would the Reed family be interested in purchasing a 1914 dodge touring car?

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Thank you for the opportunity to acquire one of the most important cars in Dodge history, however, to my mind a 1914 Dodge Touring car is like a time capsule and belongs in a museum. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to leave your very kind offer.

  3. Bruce Eisel says :

    What an important story for the history of the automobile and Montgomery county. Thank You

  4. Mary Ann (Norris) Buhrman says :

    I grew up in Rockville and was searching for pictures of early Rockville to share with my children. I came upon this article and was excited to read it. My mother’s name, Evelyn Beane, was mentioned as being one of the original employees. She was the administrative assistant. I’m confused because she was born in 1913. Do you know the years that she worked for Reed Brother’s? I expected to see my dad’s name mentioned (John Norris) although I don’t know the years that he worked for Reed Brother’s. Eventually, Dad and his brother, George, opened Norris Brother’s garage on Viers Mill Road. Where can I find information about Rockville from the 20’s on?

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Hello Mary Ann, thank you for stopping by and pointing your mother out to me. My mother, Mary Jane Reed Gartner remembers both your mother and father. In fact, she said at one time your parents lived next door to the Reed’s on North Frederick Ave in Gaithersburg! I spoke with her just today after receiving your messages and she said she recalled that your father, John Norris, did work at Reed Brothers and then opened his Garage on Veirs Mill Rd.

      If you happen to have an early photograph of your father and an approximate date of employment (I would guess around the same time as your mother), I would love to include him as well.

      I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to share your information.

      All the best to you,
      Jeanne Gartner

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