Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Early Car Dealerships in Niles

Ward — Thomas Museum
Home of the Niles Historical Society
503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

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Prominent in the foreground of Carmella's Confectionery, located at 7 South Main Street, is one of the first Fords purchased in Niles, ca 1906.

At the turn of the twentieth century the dependence on the horse and buggy was about to change. Niles already had interurban street cars that ran between Niles and Mineral Ridge, Warren and McKinley Heights. The appearance of the motor-car was about to change the living style of families — travel to work, church, downtown even vacations.

Prominent in the foreground of Carmella's Confectionery, located at 7 South Main Street, is one of the first Fords purchased in Niles, ca 1906. PO1.244


A listing of some of the car dealerships in Niles. The Great Depression
caused many car businesses to close and sell-off
their inventory at a huge loss.

Cook and Baker 265 North Main — Oldsmobile
Humphries-Barker 1121 North Main Plymouth — DeSoto
Hake Motor Co. 116 West Federal Street — Buick
Pritchard Motors 319 Robbins Avenue — Dodge-Plymouth
Shiveley Sales and Service 327 Robbins Avenue — Ford
Brooks Motor Sales 1121 North Main — Dodge-Plymouth
C.H. Stiver 236 North Main — Chevrolet
Dean & Best 100 West Federal Street — Oldsmobile
Park Auto 148 North Main — Pontiac
P&G Auto Sales — Willys
Johnny Pressel Motor Sales — Chrysler-Plymouth
E.C. Dugan — DeSoto-Plymouth

The Peerless brand was advertised and sold by Mullett Motor Sales located at 236 North Main Street. Peerless went out of business during the Great Depression.

The Nash was sold by J.E. Heatman, Inc. located at 148 State Street across from Central Park (Dairy Queen area). Nash went out of business in the 1950s.

Ray DeLaney, Inc. took over the Ford Dealership from R.A. Axelson at 329 Robbins Avenue.

R.A. Axelson opened a used car dealership on North Main Street that went out of business in 1931 as a result of the Great Depression.


Sample newpaper car advertisements.

Sample newpaper car advertisements.

Sample newpaper car advertisements.


DeJute Building

The DeJute Building at 236 North Main Street was built in 1928. C.H. Stiver sold Chevrolets at this location, then moved across the street. A Desoto-Plymouth dealership was then located here.

 

New location for C.H. Stiver dealership.

New location for C.H. Stiver dealership.

The Pritchard Building was located at 319 Robbins Avenue and Pritchard Motors sold Dodge-Plymouth cars at this location.

The Pritchard Building was located at 319 Robbins Avenue and Pritchard Motors sold Dodge-Plymouth cars at this location.


 

The Sigler Building, built in 1919, is located at the intersection of Robbins and Mahoning Avenues.

The Sigler Building, built in 1919, is located at the intersection of Robbins and Mahoning Avenues.

One of the many businesses that occupied the Sigler Building was Johnny Pressell Motor Sales during the 40’s and 50’s.

One of the many businesses that occupied the Sigler Building was Johnny Pressell Motor Sales during the 40’s and 50’s. Johnny sold Chrysler and Plymouth automobiles in the front with a service department in the back.PO11.382

A 1954 advertisement for the Chrysler Imperial.

A 1954 advertisement for the Chrysler Imperial.


The Sigler Building was razed in 2019.

Looking down Robbins from Pressell’s was Herb Stein Lincoln-Mercury Sales.

Looking down Robbins from Pressell’s was Herb Stein Lincoln-Mercury Sales. Dealers kept their new cars hidden until the presentation of the new model year in September.

I remember peeking into Stein’s garage on Hartzell to see the new Lincoln or Mercury cars. These were the years when each automobile had its own design with fins, chrome, dual headlights and more to make it standout and be more desireable to the car buyers.

Advertisement for the 1954 Mercury on sale at Herb Stein's Linciln-Mercury dealership.

Advertisement for the 1954 Mercury on sale at Herb Stein's Linciln-Mercury dealership.


The Pritchard Building was razed in 2019.

Advertisement for Fleck Pontiac.

The Pritchard Building is located at 319 Robbins Avenue and Pritchard Motors sold Dodge-Plymouth cars at this location.

In the '50s and 'early '60s, Fleck Pontiac would occupy this building with a dealership.

Ray DeLaney, Inc. took over the Ford Dealership from R.A. Axelson at 329 Robbins Avenue. Later, Shivley Sales and Service would sell Fords at 327 Robbins Avenue.

In the '50s Bonaquist Motors would sell Dodge and Plymouth automobiles at this location.


1942 Oldsmobile ad

Best Used Cars

The ‘Best’ Story — Les Best

Otis Best started fixing cars in 1923 with Harry Mullett, owner of Mullett Motor Sales located at 236 North Main Street. Harry first sold Star-Durant automobiles then later sold DeSoto, Plymouth and the Peerless brands. In 1931 Peerless went out of business during the Great Depression.

In March 1931 Otis Best and Harry Dean formed a partnership, Dean and Best General Repair Shop located at 1121 North Main Street where North Road forms a triangle shaped lot. Later, they moved their repair shop to 100 West Federal Street.(Note, The street address later changed to 100 East Federal when Main Street rather than Vienna Avenue began to be used for mailing addresses).

An Oldsmobile franchise was awarded to Dean and Best in October 1941 at the 100 West Federal address. As written in their partnership agreement, neither Best nor Dean could buy out the other partner’s share of the dealership, so in 1948 Smith-Sherwood bought the Oldsmobile franchise from Dean and Best. Sherwood bought Smith’s interest and the dealership became Sherwood Oldsmobile in 1950.

Otis Best had begun working at Stiver Chevrolet on North Main Street as service manager during 1949-1950. Late in 1950, Otis returned to Sherwood Oldsmobile as service manager. Otis’ son, Rod Best, also worked at Sherwood Oldsmobile from 1950-1958. In 1958 Otis and Rod and Rod’s other son, Duane, bought 1024 North Main Street, across from the American Legion Hall and on the same side of North Main as Dr. West’s Animal Clinic. Rod worked as shop mechanic and salesman. Otis died in 1970 after leaving the shop some years earlier.

Jack Sandman bought the building at 116 East Federal Street and Best Auto Service maintained their business in this building until closing in April 2002. Rod’s wife, Shirley, ran the front office for many years. Les Best, Rod’s older son began working in 1968 until reaching college age. Rod’s younger son, Doug, also worked at this location and obtained an associate degree in Automotive Sales Marketing. Something must have been in the Best genetics that caused nephews and cousins to moonlight at the shop turning wrenches and diagnosing vehicle troubles. Rod Best retired in 1994 while Les and Doug continued the repair shop business until it closed in 2002.

As the years passed, Best Auto Service grew into a community partner. It represented what cities like Girard, McDonald and Niles prided themselves on and seek to be remembered for- being a part of a thriving, trusted family business. Children would often bring in their bicycles for tire and seat repair, at no cost. Many music stands from local high schools received a fresh coat of black paint in the spray booth.

Customers would arrive at 9 AM for a cup of coffee and leave hours later, now caught up on each other’s family happenings. It was not unusual for a customer to answer the phone when all the employees were busy. Best Auto Service cars were in Halloween and Fourth of July parades; even leading the opening lap at Sharon Speedway. Countless cars in Niles wore the recognizable silver “Best Auto Sales” sticker on the back bumper.

Unfortunately, as the automotive industry evolved, small area businesses, like Best Auto Repair, began to feel the pain of a changing economy and competing with super-sized dealers. After 77 years of serving the Niles’ community, their garage doors were closed.


Dean & Best ad

1942 Oldsmobile ad

1948 Oldsmobile

1948 Oldsmobile

1948 Oldsmobile


1931 advertisement for Mullett Motors.

Sherwood-Smith Oldsmobile advertisement.

Sherwood-Smith Oldsmobile advertisement.

L: 1931 advertisement for Mullett Motors.

R: Listing of the 1960s service stations.


Weddell’s Service Station — Tim Weddell

My grandfather, Tom Weddell, was raised in Mineral Ridge before meeting my grandmother, Kay Pollard, in the early 40’s. They married in 1945 after honorably serving in the US Navy in WWII.

My grandfather worked for SOHIO, operating stations whose owners were still at war before he opened his first service station, WEDDELL’S SOHIO, at the south west corner of Mahoning Ave and Robbins Avenue.

He later moved to a newer SOHIO station on the north east corner North Main Street and West Federal Street in the mid 50’s.

 

 

Weddell 1956 ad

While operating the SOHIO stations, he was an active and lifetime member of the Niles Jaycees and former president of the Niles Jaycees, former president of the Niles Chamber of Commerce, former president of the Gasoline dealers of Ohio, served on the board of the National Gasoline dealers of Ohio, and a very active member of the Freemasons.

Three men inspecting a car tire.

After 30 years with SOHIO, he moved to a SUNOCO station at the northeast corner of Main Street and Church Street where Fair-Way tire currently operates. He closed the station in the early 80’s after 8 years of operation at a Sunoco service station.


The little boy in the plaid is my father, six year old Tim Weddell Niles class of 1968.

The little boy in the plaid is my father, six year old Tim Weddell Niles class of 1968. With him is my grandmother Kay Weddell and my grandfather, Tom Weddell. .Photo: 1956.

Tim Weddell, owner/operator

Tim Weddell, owner/operator
of SOHIO service station.

Weddells Service Station sponsored many local sports teams by supplying uniforms and equipment.

Weddells Service Station sponsored many local sports teams by supplying uniforms and equipment.

 


Park Avenue Sinclair Service Station, 1953.

Park Avenue Sinclair Service Station, 1953.

Unknown, Paul and Stan Bahn.

Unknown, Paul and Stan Bahn.



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