Car dealerships have come a long way, especially compared to Gilman’s Garage & Ford, in Theresa, NY. I’m a bit stumped as to the location of the gas pump right at the foot of the stairs.
That building looks remarkably like the old Ford dealer in West Stockbridge MA. Coincidence or did Ford have suggested buildings for Model T era dealers who built from the ground up?
It’s certainly possible that the gas pump was added after the stairway had been built, and the stairway is actually blocked or partially-blocked in the picture. But what–aside from the raised flower-bed, would those stairs lead to? Too short to reach the second story, yet eight steps above the main floor.
Wild Guess: The stairway is on casters. A mobile staircase. Rolled-out on those rare times it’s needed, then stuffed out-of-the-way for the rest of the month. The Bus Plant had a dozen of ’em in various heights. Enough spring on the casters so that empty, they theoretically could be rolled around with ease. As soon as a person stepped on them, the springs collapsed leaving the staircase stable ‘n’ secure on rubber-tipped “feet”.
The usual problem was that the springs were so weak from use and age that the rubber feet dragged until there was nothing left of the rubber on the bottom; the rubber made a nice cover for the outside of the steel tubing with nothing underneath. And then the staircase would slide along the floor in use, but not slide well-enough when empty.
A heck of a shed roof too. Looks like one- or two-bedroom residence upstairs.
I have no recollection (back to the early ’70s) of car dealerships ever looking like this, even in the small towns I was in. I do remember a few gas stations that looked like this but they didn’t sell cars. Or maybe I just didn’t see the tiny Ford sign…
I’m guessing it may have been a Ford dealership at one time, but apparently now the building has been converted into an automobile repair co. I believe the lettering on the tow truck says “Gillman’s Garage”. The second level with the window shades and curtains is perhaps the residence where the owners lived?
I’ll take a shot: they ‘were’ stairs but was converted to an emergency fire escape ladder to make way for the gas pump since that was the easiest/cheapest place to put it. The panel to the left of the escape swings wide like a gate to allow exit.
The gas pump’s conflict with the stairs appears to be an illusion due to the camera angle. This photo taken from a slightly different angle shows that there’s a few feet of space between the stairs, the Esso sign and the pump.
This is the oldest photo I can find, which might solve the stairway/gas pump mystery. It shows the service station/dealership before the stairs were added, along with the awning and some new horizontal windows on the 2nd floor at the corner. Here you can see that behind the paved road that the front of the building faces, the ground drops about two or three feet before before it slopes downward further alongside the side of the building. Thus, the foot of the stairway is about two feet below the bottom of the future gas pump, making it look like it’s right behind it in the original photo from the postcard but really there’s several feet of stair landing there.
The back of the postcard says “Bumper to Bumper Service, Right Here For Over Thirty Years”, though it oddly doesn’t tell you the address so you’d know where “here” is. Anyway, that means there could be as much as 30 years between these two photos. The postcard gives the phone number (7214 – when were four-digit phone numbers last used?)
Any idea on the location? I wonder if the building is still standing
As far as I can tell, the location is below – on the site of what now is a house.
Both structures in the vintage photos are long gone, but the building on the right appears to be the same as in the vintage photos, and the topography matches.
The Google StreetView link is here:
Corner of Bridge and Mill Streets in Theresa, NY according to a facebook post, which also says the owner’s daughter built a house on the site in the 1980s. I can’t find anything showing how long the Ford dealer or Esso station was in business. I keep thinking, what did the home building do with the underground gasoline storage tank?
At first I doubted that was the actual location because I was surprised a house would be on the former gas station site, but seeing that the house was built by the owner’s family, it makes more sense.
But I’ve got to wonder about the (lack of?) environmental cleanup there!
haha, what are you all guessing about? That’s a door panel.
They didn’t want customers to enter the stairs, hence the small fence in the photo.
This reminds me of B. J. Werner Ford, 450 River Dr., Garfield NJ where my ’58 Ford was purchased new. (Now Firematic & Safety Equip.) A lot of car dealerships back then didn’t look so glamorous.
There was a showroom up front, and service garages in back.
Oh no–It just burned down in January! Glad I got to visit there once.
I’m loving those vintage pictures .
The gas pump was added to that first postcard, enlarge it .
The ‘shed’ is an old typ of lost cost commercial building, much like the WWII ‘Quanset Huts’ the military used thousands of and many still remain .
Many families made their fortune in the early ’20s when their mechanic shop was approached to become a Ford or Chevy dealership as cars became more common.
Those astute to ride out the depression had more customers than cars by the late ’30s when war production ratcheted up and money was flowing again.
If these walls could talk……
Looks like the gas pump was added to the post card. It’s not even lined up properly with the other gas pumps to the right. It looks to be about 4 or 5 feet further back.. And the stairs look like they were brought forward a bit as well.
And, the artist/retoucher “finished” the stairs several steps up from where the bottom disappears behind the pump. These cards could be heavily shopped, and the truth obscured by inventive architecture when the graphics guy wasn’t sure what he was looking at.
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