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Honoring a Legacy

When Lewis Reed opened his Dodge dealership 106 years ago in October 1915, he never knew he was starting a family tradition that would be carried out for 97 years and three generations. Since then, the business grew and transformed from a small-scale garage and dealership into one of the largest and most recognized commercial enterprises on Rockville Pike.

Lewis and Edgar Reed’s business philosophy was simple:

Treat your customer as your friend and always do what you promise.

Rockville Garage, 1915

1915 Rockville Garage located at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike The original owners of Rockville Garage are standing in front. From left:  Lewis Reed – Roy Warfield – Griffith Warfield.

The photo above shows the Rockville Garage where Lewis Reed got his start by becoming a partner with Robert L. and Griffith Warfield in 1914. The Warfield brothers had purchased this building in July 1915, from Lee Ricketts and Sons who had the Overland Agency. In 1917, Lewis Reed bought out the Warfield brothers’ interest and continued the business until 1919 when he was joined by his brother, Edgar. The firm’s name was changed to Reed Brothers upon a suggestion of the late Judge Edward C. Peter.

Reed Brothers handled the first Dodge cars placed on the market in Montgomery County, Maryland. The company continued for two generations later under the Gartner family and sold tens of thousands of cars to generations of local drivers. The late George M. Hunter, President of the Montgomery County National Bank, purchased the first automobile sold by the Rockville Garage.

Rockville Garage original owners

1916 – The original owners of Rockville Garage. From left: Roy Warfield – Lewis Reed – Griffith Warfield

Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson along with Dodge. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers from 1930 until 1969, when the Plymouth car was given to the Chrysler dealers. In 1928, when Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died, Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family. By 1929, when the stock market crashed and Great Depression began, nobody could afford to buy cars. Like most other businesses, the Great Depression hit hard and Reed Brothers had to rely on its Service Department to make ends meet. But, the dealership survived through these lean times.

During World War II, Reed Brothers Dodge had virtually no new cars to sell for three and a half years. Tires and parts were rationed. Strict price ceilings governed used-car sales. Used cars were really hard to find, because people couldn’t afford to give them up. So, most dealerships had to rely on their service and parts departments to fix the cars people couldn’t replace. Empty showrooms were a problem. When manufacturers halted car production and many dealers went bankrupt, Lewis Reed converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines, Westinghouse Radios, and other large appliances to fill the gap.

The dealership survived The Great Depression, World War II, the first Chrysler Bailout and resurgence under Lee Iacocca, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus. Reed Brothers has, in fact, survived everything but Chrysler itself. Whether a franchise is run by a second- or third-generation dealer or is older than even Chrysler itself didn’t seem to matter when Chrysler decided to cut dealership ranks during their 2009 bankruptcy process. After almost 95 years selling Dodges, Reed Brothers was one of the 15 dealerships in Maryland and 789 dealerships nationwide notified by Chrysler that their franchise agreement would not be renewed.

The dealership’s historical legacy continues to this day on the site of its former location at 15955 Frederick Road in Rockville, which is now the Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments. Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments pays homage to this history with commemorative art on the former site of the iconic Reed Brothers Dodge dealership.

Tom Keady, President of the Bainbridge Companies said:

Honoring the rich historical legacy of this site was extremely important to us. With the sculpture and the floor plan names, our residents and visitors feel a real connection to the site’s past, and we pay tribute to Reed Brothers Dodge’s role in creating a vibrant Rockville.

A sculpture now installed on the property pays tribute to the oldest Dodge dealership in Maryland history. More than 20 feet high, and over 6 feet wide, the public art is inspired by 1939 Dodge headlamps and the fender of a 1957 Dodge pickup truck. Along with the sculpture, a set of Hemi Piston street lamps line the walkway towards the metro station. Historical elements have been incorporated into the interior design of the development which carries out a common theme of dealership history and automobiles.

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments

Bainbridge Shady Grove Metro Apartments now stands on the former site of the Reed Brothers Dodge dealership at 15955 Frederick Road. A sculpture now installed on the property pays tribute to the oldest Dodge dealership in Maryland history.

Blog Milestone: 300K Page Views

If you ever glance at the blog view counter on the right side of this page, you might have noticed that this blog just went over 300,000 views. After reaching this milestone, I would like to take the time to thank all of you who have visited, followed, shared, or commented on this blog. Visitors to this site on a daily basis continue to grow — we have been visited by folks from all fifty of the United States and 187 different countries world wide.

I have often been asked why I started this blog. For me, it’s because history is important. Sometimes we don’t know we need to do something until it’s handed to us, and once we have it, we suddenly see and feel its value. As we were getting ready to close the doors to the dealership for the last time in May 2012, I was standing in the empty showroom thinking about all the history, past achievements, and hardships the dealership had endured over the years. Few businesses can say they’ve lasted almost a century. It seemed a particularly pertinent time to start thinking about such a project, as it was a time of reminiscence, but also looking forward.

When I stop to think about what Reed Brothers Dodge has experienced over the last century, from World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, to three economic recessions, two energy crises, and numerous Chrysler setbacks — including the first Chrysler Bailout, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler, and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus — I could not be more proud to be a part of such an amazing story. It takes resilience to weather 97 years in business. The dealership adapted itself multiple times in order to survive. Through the good times and the bad, Reed Brothers Dodge held on and prospered.

I felt it was important to take the time to ensure our history remained accessible for those who read it years from now, or decades from now, when I or other family members who know the story firsthand are no longer around to tell it. How Reed Brothers Dodge came into being, and how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges throughout almost a century of being in business — all adds up to a great story.

Creating this blog and sharing our business history has been the most rewarding endeavor of my life. I appreciate all of you for your continued support and making Reed Brothers Dodge History one of the places you visit during the course of your day.

Thanks for reading!

Jeanne Gartner, Blog Author

Remembering My Mother on the First Anniversary of Her Passing

Today is a very special post in remembrance of my mother, Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner, who passed away one year ago on September 10, 2019. Her father, Lewis Reed, was the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge of Rockville – a family business that would be carried out for 97 years and three generations. It’s hard for me not to reflect on what an amazing person she was. As with most people, I have a few people in my life who really inspire me, and my mom is one of them.

In some ways, it seems like more than a year has passed since she passed. Her absence is part of my daily life now. At some point every day, I think I should call her and have to remind myself I can no longer do this. But I can keep her memory alive by sharing a few recent stories about her.

Apple Cider Time!

In the autumn months, a weekly visit with mom to Lewis Orchard Farm Market in Dickerson, Maryland for some apples and cider was a weekly ritual. Then over to Bassett’s in Poolesville for dinner. She was always happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall days and the sights outside.

Did Someone Say “Happy Hour?”

We celebrated mom’s 93rd birthday at Bassett’s Fine Food & Spirits in Poolesville, one of her favorite restaurants.

Mary Jane Gartner

Rosemary Pasek and mom enjoying a happy 93rd birthday toast

Celebrating mom’s 94th birthday at Arties in Fairfax. Baby back ribs and cheesecake dessert for the birthday girl!Mom's 94th birthday at Arties

The Saturday Lunch Bunch

Saturday lunches were something that my mom and her friends at Asbury Methodist Village always looked forward to. They had a lot of fun taking turns choosing which restaurant they would go to each Saturday. I always tried to have an annual summer cookout for them down at my place. Simple pleasures mean so much more these days, and grilling out was always a big hit.

Below, we are enjoying a cookout on my back porch with mom and three of her friends. Burgers, beer brats, baked beans, potato salad, marinated asparagus, and homemade key lime pie were on the menu. Three of them in their 90s, doing with gusto whatever it is that gives them joy. I miss these small, but very meaningful times. Hard to believe that this was only 5 years ago.

Mary Jane Reed Gartner

Left to Right: Jane Sween, Mary Jane Gartner, Polly Conners and Rosemary Pasek.

“What’s Your Excuse?”

The photo gallery below could be titled, “what’s your excuse?” This is my mom at 94 years of age going through her exercise routine at the Asbury Village Wellness Center. Great job mom!

My #1 Fan

My mom has always been my #1 fan. I was so very proud to have had her in the audience on November 18, 2016 when I was recognized with the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication by Peerless Rockville for my blog and book documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge. The ceremony was held at Glenview Mansion, one of Rockville’s most beautiful historic properties. It was a tremendous honor for me to receive this award, but more importantly, share this special occasion with my mother. I saw my mom in the audience. I saw her smile and I felt her joy.

Never Too Late to Learn Something New

My mom has always been an active person and had the heart and mind of someone 20 years younger. She was 90 years old when she joined Facebook! She was not only a Facebook friend, but a Skyper, a Texter and could navigate an iPhone and Windows 8! I could have not possibly been more proud of her.

Mom's Facebook Page

Recalling a Wonderful Life

I have been fortunate to have spent the last 10+ years experiencing the best friendship ever with my mother. One of my greatest joys was looking through all of my grandfather’s photographs along with my mother. On many afternoon visits with her, we went through hundreds of photographs and wrote down names, dates, and locations to the best of her recollection. We were able to relive the highlights of her life together; it was a very special time. This weekly activity, working together with her sharing memories and photos about previous generations, has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life.

Mary Jane Gartner

Watching my mom’s eyes light up when I gave her the first proof book of her father’s entire photograph collection — 350 pages and 2500+ photographs — was a beautiful thing to see. True magic happened when she opened that book and started looking through the pictures. The book was a monumental task, and almost 10 years in the making, but it had a monumental reward at the end. Bringing out all those cherished memories for my mother was truly a celebration of her life.

Near the end of her life, I came to understand what a strong person my mother was. My mother had grit, warmth, a positive outlook on life, and an independent streak that served her well during the last years of her life.

Grateful for Beautiful Memories

When it comes right down to it, all we have are memories. You don’t have to travel or go far away to make memories; it can be as simple as a trip to the orchard or a Saturday afternoon brunch. I miss my mother, but I am forever grateful for the beautiful memories she left me. I find it helps to take the perspective that I didn’t really lose her. I know exactly where she is and where she’ll always be. She is alive in my memories and the link to all the history I share on this blog.

8 Years, 353 Posts & Thank You

8 Years

This month marks the 8-year anniversary of this blog. It’s been an honor to share the history of Reed Brothers Dodge – whether you’ve read our blog, followed us on Twitter, or “liked” us on Facebook. I would like to thank all of you who have visited, followed, shared, or commented on this blog, and many others, for their kind words and the visibility they have provided.

Here’s a look back at the last year.

What People are Saying Around Facebook:

“Amazing blog and postings. I spent sometime reviewing your site and found it both fascinating and interesting.”
“I am thankful for the documentation this site provides with images of a beloved hometown that can no longer be seen.”
“Love seeing the old photos.”
“This is soooo cool! Someone needs to do one of those historical books of Historical Rockville photos!”
“These photos are absolutely awesome!!!”
“Thank you so much for sharing! This is classic Montgomery County info.”
“That was so cool reading all your memory posts. Best thing I’ve read on FB in a while.”
“I love seeing these old photos and reading the history. Thank you.”
“Thank you for this history. There is so much we take for granted.”

Past Lectures:

2019 Montgomery County History Conference: Each year in January, the Montgomery County Historical Society holds a day-long conference on various aspects of local history. Upwards of 200 people attend this annual event, which has been held since 2007. Last year, I was very honored for the invitation to speak about the history of Reed Brothers Dodge at the Montgomery County History Conference on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

The PowerPoint presentation followed the dealerships 97-year historic timeline and included more than 100 photographs, 70 of them rare, historic images taken by the dealership’s founder, Lewis Reed. The conference was held at the Bioscience Education Center on Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus.

2019 Montgomery History Conference

Montgomery History Speakers Bureau: Officially added to the Montgomery History Speakers Bureau. My topic is, of course, The History of Reed Brothers Dodge“. It is my great honor to join the talented league of speakers at Montgomery History, and I sincerely look forward to sharing our 97-year family business history throughout Montgomery County and the greater Washington D.C. metro area.

Montgomery History Speakers BureauKensington Park Retirement Community Talk: Gave a presentation as part of Montgomery History’s Speakers Bureau at Kensington Park Retirement Community. Approximately 25 residents from the Woodlands Assisted Living facility attended. Such a joy me sharing, their listening, and appreciating the time spent together. Thanks to Activities Director Kate Moeller who invited me to speak.

Woodlands Assisted Living

Kensington Park Woodlands Assisted Living

Montgomery History Tuesday Talks: Montgomery History’s lunchtime lecture series, Tuesday Talks, takes place at noon on the first Tuesday of every month at the historic Beall-Dawson House in Rockville, Maryland. Enjoy presentations covering various aspects of history including local history of Montgomery County and the history of those who once lived here.

Montgomary History Tuesday Talks

Online Exhibit: Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed Lewis Reed’s photographs are now a part of a series of online exhibitions featured on the Montgomery History website. Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed displays extraordinary photographs in several themed categories (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, & Daily Life) taken at the beginning of the 20th century by county native and founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, Lewis Reed. It is an absolutely unique window into how the people of Montgomery County lived over a century ago. Working in collaboration with Montgomery History Librarian and Archivist, Sarah Hedlund, I am proud to play a part in the preservation of local history, making these photographs available to all.

Through the Lens of Lewis Reed online exhibitI appreciate all of you for your continued support and making Reed Brothers Dodge History one of the places you visit during the course of your day.

Thank you

7 Years, 296 Posts & Thank You

7 Year Blog AnniversaryToday marks the 7-year anniversary of this blog. It’s been an honor to share the history of Reed Brothers Dodge – whether you’ve read our blog, followed us on Twitter, or “liked” us on Facebook. I would like to thank those mentioned below, and many others, for their kind words and the visibility they have provided.

To help review the past year I thought I’d search around on the Internet and see what others have been saying about us.

Included among the posts on our Facebook page:

These old photos are so great!”
Great photos/history documentation.”
“Keep up the great work with your blog. I really enjoy reading about the history and especially seeing the photos.”
“Really enjoy all of the Reed Brothers Dodge History.”
“Beyond impressive.”
Such a cool story.”
Thank you so much for sharing these photos, I enjoy seeing them.
That is a great photo, the detail is phenomenal.”
Fabulous pictures.”
Please keep these posts coming. I have enjoyed every posting.
1,164 months give or take. Quite a run, 97 years.
“Love reading all this history and seeing these pictures!”
“I love your posts. Your stories add richness to the stories.”

I love pictures, especially the old ones. People, places and things…the pictures bring such cool history and personal ones, the fond memories.

Online and in print:

Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Forum: “Reed Brothers was a pretty important local business owners in my area. The Reed Brothers, shown in the photo attached, are the two center riders with touring caps and ties started a garage in Rockville in 1915 and received a Dodge Motors contract to sell and service the new automobile….. Lewis was a pretty extraordinary amateur photographer.”

Meadow Brook Hall: For the second year, to show support to preserving the Dodge legacy, the author of this blog has “adopted” a Dodge car  — a 1915 Dodge Brothers Touring Car — one of the historic vehicles in the Meadow Brook Hall Dodge Brothers automobile collection. Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills, Michigan was the estate of one of the world’s wealthiest and influential women of her time, Matilda Dodge Wilson. Matilda was the wife of John F. Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company.

Meadow Brook Hall Adopt a Dodge

Photo courtesy of Meadow Brook Hall

The inscription on the Adoption Certificate reads:

adopted by Jeanne Gartner in memory of her grandfather, Lewis Reed, who founded Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland in October 1915.

The vehicle was adopted for a period of one year, beginning November 14, 2018 through November 13, 2019 (November 14 is the anniversary of the day John and Horace Dodge revealed their first car in 1914). The adoption will help Meadow Brook make necessary repairs, provide preventative maintenance and pay insurance for the Depot Hack, ensuring it’s there to inspire, educate and “drive” this and future generations. Lewis Reed is a perfect and most fitting parent.

“Just A Car Guy”: It’s pretty cool to see a well-known car blog like “Just A Car Guy” has noticed our history blog and has been sending visitors our way via a link on their page under, “Sites I recommend for their quality”: Reed Brothers Dodge History. I am proud and honored to be regarded among these terrific automotive websites.

On National Television!

  • Lewis Reed Photo Featured on Maryland Public Television (MPT): Lewis Reed’s aerial photograph of entire original Reed Brothers Dodge dealership at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike was used in the Maryland Farm & Harvest series which was aired on December 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm on MPT. The photo illustrated what Rockville Pike looked like at the time, during a segment about 97-year-old farmer Charles Koiner who grew up in the Rockville area.
Maryland Farm & Harvest

Screen shot of credits from Maryland Farm & Harvest video on MPT

  • Lewis Reed Photo on Discovery’s Science Channel, Impossible Engineering: A Lewis Reed’s photo from the 1923 Rockville Fair Auto Races was a part of the Episode 4 ‘London Array’ Series of Impossible Engineering that was broadcast on Thursday, January 24, 2019 on Discovery’s Science Channel. The photograph was used on the program that featured a segment on the development of the race car.
Impossible Engineering episode 4 London Array

Lewis Reed’s photo extracted from the Science Channel Impossible Engineering DVD

Last, but certainly not least, many thanks to all of you who have visited, followed, shared, or commented on this blog. I appreciate all of you for your continued support and making Reed Brothers Dodge History one of the places you visit during the course of your day.

thank you note


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