Auto dealers all based in downtown Glenwood until 1960s
Frontier Historical Society
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.”
– Henry Ford,
“My Life and Work,” 1922
By 1914, Henry Ford with his low-priced automobile made it possible for almost every American to own a car. With several auto manufacturers vying for the consumer dollar, many auto makers had abandoned the direct-from-factory sale concept, encouraging entrepreneurs to open local dealerships. With the financial burden for success resting solidly upon the car dealers, competition was keen.
Glenwood Springs by the mid 1910s found several such men ready for the challenge.
In addition to assuming the financial risks associated with a dealership, early dealers had to repair and maintain the vehicles they sold. In census records, most were not listed as having the profession of auto dealer proprietor, but instead as garage machinist.
The dealerships operated as storefronts and carried small inventories. With all dealerships located in the downtown area, buying an automobile was as convenient as buying shoes or groceries.
By 1917, James Stanage assumed ownership of the Ford dealership previously owned by Reese Tucker, and opened his Ford Service Station at 727 Grand Ave., the approximate location of today’s Sacred Grounds Coffee House.
At 805 Grand Ave., Edward B. Oberto sold Chevrolet and Lexington automobiles. The Trimble Brothers sold Cadillacs at 831 Grand Ave.
By 1919, J. F. McCoy partnered with Stephen Holland and added Dodge Brothers autos to his Buick inventory on the corner of Eighth and Cooper.
In 1924 the face of auto dealerships in Glenwood Springs changed.
J.V. Rose, a former Caddy mechanic for Trimble Brothers, became the Chevrolet dealer. As the 1920s progressed, Rose purchased the building at 901 Grand Ave., site of today’s Bank of Colorado, constructed a new building, and expanded his dealership to include Cadillac and Oldsmobile.
In turn, Joe Blossom assumed the Ford dealership and moved it to 831 Grand Ave.
With the Great Depression, automobile production plummeted to lows not seen since World War I.
However, J.V. Rose, with diversified business interests, expanded his Chevy dealership by adding to his existing building. The Ford dealership, now owned by Rea Eaton, positioned itself across the street at 918 Grand Ave., the site of today’s Jewels and Gems.
This made the 900 block of Grand Avenue the place to purchase cars.
After World War II, pent-up consumer demand created a wider variety of new vehicles. Dealerships evolved from storefronts to larger lots and showrooms.
In the 1950s, dealerships expanded to property near the Hotel Colorado on Sixth Street.
Berthod Motors sold Hudson autos from the two-story Tamarac building at 10th and Grand.
By 1966, only J.V. Rose and Berthod Motors remained in the downtown core. All other dealerships had moved their operations to south, north or west Glenwood Springs.
The early automobiles were the cutting edge of a new technology that changed the world.
These pioneering automobile dealers took great personal financial risks catering to this technological development and the consumers it created.
Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Fall, winter and spring hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.
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