Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What used to be in that building?

Yeah, I know. It's no mystery that Forest City Auto Parts used to be in this building at 1803 Broadway. But what was in there before that?

I had a hunch that there would be an interesting variety of businesses located there through the years. But I was wrong. Since the very beginning, the building was associated with the automobile business.

The earliest listing for 1803 Broadway was in the 1926 Lorain City Directory. The Colgan Motor Sales Company was at that address.

The company distributed Studebakers. (You can see in the above photo where the Studebaker logo would have been mounted, right under the brick arch.) By 1929, the Erskine (a brand produced by Studebaker) was added. But by 1933, however, it was Studebakers and Packards.

1933 City Directory Ad
Colgan Motor Sales remained there all through the 1930's, even sharing the address with the Lorain Barbers Union Local No. 268 in the 1937 book.

By 1940, the company was selling Studebakers, Cadillacs and the LaSalle brand.

Strangely, the company disappeared in the 1942 book – and was replaced at that address by Atkinson & Williams automotive dealers. But Colgan was back in the 1945 book when Atkinson & Williams moved to 1735 Broadway.

Colgan Motor Sales remained at the 1803 address until 1959 – when it was replaced by another dealer, Denton Cadillac. But Denton wasn't in there very long; it was gone by 1961, when the building went vacant.

In 1964, however, the city directory listed Hageman Auto Parts at the 1803 Broadway address and they would remain there for a while.

Here's their Lorain phone book ad from 1968, featuring the long-necked, bespectacled cartoon mascot that we usually associate with Forest City Auto Parts.

1968 Lorain Phone Book ad
In the 1973 city directory, the listing did indeed change to Forest City Auto Parts. Here's their phone book ad from 1974.

1974 Lorain Phone Book ad
Forest City Auto parts remained at that address until around 2002, when the listing disappeared from the directory. I don't know much about the Forest City chain of stores, except that there used to be locations in Cleveland. It sure looks like in the beginning, there was a parent company that had all these individual local stores with their own names but using the same mascot and ad layouts; then, at some point, the stores were all rebranded under the Forest City name.


ge13031 said...

From the Lorain Public Library listing ;
"On February 21, 1925 Colgan Motor Sales has the new Studebaker coach on sale for $1,295."

If you google it makes an interesting trip since the name Colgan is still associated with the auto industry


Doug Majka said...

Forest City Auto Parts - they usually offered three different warranties on parts. The more you paid, the longer the warranty - for the same part!

ge13031 said...

The folks that manufactured auto parts were good customers of Lorain's Bar Mills. As the automobile business went down the auto parts business went up.

Now the "kids" don't fiddle with cars anymore we have gone from J.C. Whitney
to Best Buy. Jalopies to Video Games.

Lisa said...

I wonder if Commissioner Williams has plans to get rid of these campaign signs any time soon?
With 2 new politicians moving into downtown, I hope this leaving signs behind isn't a new trend.

The Forest City guy with the long neck always freaked me out as a kid.