Dodge Hamtramck Plant 106 Years Ago

Dodge Hamtramck Plant (Dodge Main) circa 1920

Dodge Hamtramck Plant (Dodge Main) circa 1920

Lewis Reed received his mechanical training at the Dodge Main Hamtramck Plant, in addition to the Hudson Motor Car factory in Detroit, Michigan, the Pierce-Arrow factory in Buffalo, New York, and the Washington Auto College. In 1910, Horace and John Dodge contracted with Albert Kahn to build the 5.1-million-square-foot Dodge Main complex with the idea of building their own automobile. This dream came true in 1915 with the introduction of the Dodge Brothers motorcar.

Lewis Reed was just 27 years old when he started selling cars built by brothers Horace and John Dodge in Detroit. Few people jumped onto the Dodge Brothers bandwagon earlier than Lewis Reed, and not many have lasted longer. Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership and service facility in 1915 – less than one year after the first Dodge automobile rolled off the assembly line. He founded what would become the oldest Dodge dealership under the same family ownership in the state of Maryland, and one of the oldest in the entire nation.

Lewis Reed was the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County, Maryland and his company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area. During the early years, Reed Brothers represented several franchise nameplates along with Dodge, including Oldsmobile, Hudson and Essex. The Hudson and Oldsmobile were sold at Reed Brothers from roughly 1917 through 1921.

A mechanical aptitude was necessary to be a car dealer in the early 1900′s. When the cars were shipped to the dealer from the manufacturer they were only partially complete and they needed final assembly, so the new dealer quickly became skilled at repair. It was the dealer’s responsibility to assemble the cars at the rail yard and drive them back to the showroom. Mechanics were often needed to repair the new cars if they broke down along the way.

First Shop Force Reed Brothers Dodge 1916

1916 – The first shop force of Rockville Garage (from left: Lewis Reed, (first name unknown) Long and Philip Reed.

The photos below are a caravan of circa 1920s cars all with Maryland Dealer license plates slowly making their way along a snowbound Goshen Road in rural Gaithersburg. The radiator badge on the front of the car in the below image identifies it as a Hudson. The only indication of where these photos were taken was a small piece of paper tucked behind one of the photos that was labeled “Goshen Road – outside Gaithersburg”.

1920 MD Dodge Dealers

Line of MD dealer cars making their way along Goshen Road. The car at the rear appears to be getting a helping hand to change a flat tire. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 MD Dealers

Dealer car stopped (stuck?) on snowbound Goshen Road. Note the trailing cars slowly making their way up the hill. Although no tire chains are in evidence, they might have been useful coming up that hill. Photo by Lewis Reed

1920 Maryland Dodge Dealers

Maryland dealer car in a circa 1920 Oldsmobile stopped along Goshen Road outside Gaithersburg. Photo by Lewis Reed

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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. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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