New Car Showroom, c. 1920s

1920s New Car Showroom

Late 1920s New Car Showroom

This new car showroom at Reed Brothers Dodge 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 (now known as Veterans Park) which gave the dealership maximum visibility to the largest volume of cross traffic. Behind the large plate glass windows and an awning above was the product — the new car. (click image to enlarge)

In the background under the column arch is the Bookkeeper’s desk, who at the time was 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 was Evelyn Beane’s desk, Reed Brothers’ administrative secretary.

To the left of the stairs is the Gulf Gasoline service counter displaying various supplies. 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 at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike. 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.

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. It was direct person to person sales contact, relationship building and trust – all built and sealed on a handshake. 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.

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006.

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