Tag Archive | reed brothers dodge history

Veirs Mill Road Prior to Paving, 1911

Do you recognize the road pictured below? Few modern residents of Montgomery County would guess, but it is a shot of Veirs Mill Road before it was paved.

Veirs Mill Road looking east at Cedar Lane prior to paving 1911

Veirs Mill Road looking east at Cedar Lane prior to paving, 1911. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Veirs Mill Road began in the 1700s as a prominent trading route leading from the mouth of the Monocacy River through Rockville to the tobacco port of Bladensburg. The road intersected with the Brookeville-Washington Turnpike (present-day Georgia Avenue), established in 1828. Veirs Mill Road was named for the saw and grist mill built in 1838 by Samuel Clark Veirs on Rock Creek, an important early waterway in the Washington, DC region.

In the early 19th century, most roads were dreadful. Rural roads were often little more than muddy trails. The popularity of the car coincided with the improvement of public roads around Rockville. By 1929, when Montgomery County residents owned 13,000 cars, the Rockville Pike and Montgomery Avenue had both been paved, but the less-traveled Veirs Mill Road remained a narrow dirt road for decades after that.

Veirs Mill Road, 1911

Veirs Mill Road at Cedar Lane showing deep ruts in the surface, 1911. The wagon wheels and tires of the time were very thin, and would sink straight into ruts, sometimes getting stuck. Photo by Lewis Reed.

From the “Times” (Washington):

Stalled in the mud… “Although he put on the entire 20-horsepower of his machine and called in assistance of several neighbors, it was not until shovels and crowbars had been procured to move his car… he was able to resume his journey. This experience not only caused more than an hour’s delay in reaching the city but the wear and tear on himself, those who rendered assistance, and incidentally, the machine. Thus, at least two months of the life of a $3,000 auto was spent in simply traversing a short stretch of roadway.”

View down Cedar Lane in Bethesda, 1911

A view down Cedar Lane in Bethesda, 1911. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Rockville Pike’s reputation as “one of the worst pieces of main highway in the state” eventually helped initiate Maryland’s Good Roads Movement, alongside a nationwide initiative to improve America’s roads. Responding to citizen demands, the newly created State Roads Commission incorporated the Rockville Pike into the state highway system.

In 1956, President Eisenhower passed legislation to implement (arguably) the greatest public-works project in U.S. history: the Interstate Highway System.

With this, every major city in America would be connected via highway construction, and mobility within the U.S. would ideally become limitless: a giant leap from the dirt roads and muddy paths that existed at the beginning of the century.

Find photos like these and much more on Montgomery History’s online exhibit, “Montgomery County 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed“.

Short History: Formation of Rockville Chamber of Commerce

Edgar Reed was one of the first members of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce when it was formed in August 1925. Sixty business and professional men of Rockville and vicinity gathered at the Montgomery County Country Club and elected officers for the Rockville Chamber of Commerce. Edgar was elected to the Executive Board and as Chairman of the Better Business Bureau committee.

Rockville Chamber of Commerce Formation

The Montgomery County Sentinel. Sept 25, 1925

From The Montgomery County Sentinel, September 25, 1925:

The purpose of the organization is set forth as “advancing the commercial, industrial and civic interests of Rockville and vicinity and to promote integrity and good faith in matters of business.”

The President was authorized to appoint committees on sanitation, public utilities, perks and playgrounds, schools, program and publicity, and the appointment of committees to cooperate with various organizations of the county for the celebration on October 2, 1926, of the 150th anniversary of the creation of Montgomery County; to investigate all stock selling schemes in the county, and to collect and invoice statistics concerning Rockville and possibilities for its future development.

The group attempted to resolve traffic and parking problems, advocate public improvements, and generally upgrade the town. Members served on the town council and generously supported the Rockville Volunteer Fore Department. Under the leadership of W. Valentine Wilson and others, the group espoused progressive ideas on behalf of improved education, economic development, and civic improvement. In 1926, Wilson commissioned a twelve-minute long movie featuring the best of Rockville—its business establishments, new firehouse, and dairy production, boasting “clean cows—clean udders—clean milk.” Organizing the Chamber marked a coming of age of Rockville’s business community. Common ground for the merchants further bonded the small town.

An integral part of the Rockville area’s past, present and future, the Rockville Chamber of Commerce is the voice of the thousands of businesses that proudly call Rockville their home.

Sources of Information:
Montgomery County Sentinel
Rockville Portrait of a City by Eileen S. McGuckian

The Automobile College of Washington

The Automobile College of Washington

From the August 11, 1909 issue of The Horseless Age Magazine (Google Books)

In addition to the Pierce-Arrow factory in Buffalo, New York and the Dodge Hamtramck and Hudson Motor Car factories in Detroit, Michigan, Lewis Reed received automotive training at The Automobile College of Washington.

The Automobile College of Washington was organized in 1909 for the purpose of training young men to fill positions as automobile engineers. The school had a repair department and a machine shop with modern motors for demonstration, where each student was taught in the mechanical construction, use, operation, and repair of the very latest four-cylinder automobiles. Some of the cars used in the school were the Washington A-1 Touring Car, Pope Tribune, Ricketts Model G 6-cylinder, Peerless 35hp, and Mitchell 25hp.

The November 7, 1909 edition of The Washington Times announced that the school was the pioneer institution of its kind in the city. Young men without previous experience were taught to be chauffeurs to not only drive, but also maintain and repair the automobiles. The Automobile College of Washington was more than likely the institution where Lewis Reed received his chauffeur training.

Washington Auto College

The Evening Star, November 07, 1909

Heartiest New Year Greetings!

A simple, but straightforward, Happy New Year greeting from Edgar and Lewis Reed from 73 years ago.

May the year ahead be all you want it to be.

This blog author would like to wish all the visitors and subscribers to this blog a very Happy New Year and all the best for a happy, healthy, and successful 2023. Thank you all for your support and for being loyal readers throughout the past year.

Montgomery County Sentinel. December 29, 1949

The Montgomery County Sentinel. December 29, 1949


Christmas Trees and Snow Villages from a Hundred Years Ago

With only a few days left until Christmas, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some photos from Lewis Reed’s collection that show us what Christmas trees used to look like 100 years ago. In those days, there was not wide-spread agreement on exactly what a tree should look like, which made for a lot of creativity. Not surprisingly, they were very different than the perfectly shaped tress we have on display today.

The trees were big back then and always fresh. They went right to the ceiling and were very wide. Early Christmas trees were generally fastened onto a flat board surrounded with fence-rails, snow villages and carpeted with cotton blankets of snow. The tree in the photo below has an abundance of tinsel, which grew in popularity to the point that, by the 1920s, it was common to nearly cover the tree in the decorative material.

So, what is tinsel (aka icicles) exactly? Originally made from strands of silver alloy, tinsel was in fact first used to decorate sculptures. It was only later that it became a Christmas tree decoration, employed to enhance the flickering of the candle flames. In the 1950s, tinsel became so popular that it was often used as a substitute for Christmas lights.

vintage Christmas tree

A small snow scene with what appears to be a miniature church is arranged at the foot of the Christmas tree. A popcorn garland adorns the tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

So, where did Washingtonians get their trees?

From The Evening Star, Washington, DC 23 December 1923:

Conduit Road on the long stretch between Glen Echo and Great Falls for many years has been a favorite hunting ground where hundreds and hundreds of families have customarily obtained scrub pine trees for Christmas week. Usually there is plenty of holly and some mistletoe to be found in the rugged and rolling hill lands which are the gateway to Great Falls.

vintage Christmas tree

No room for a star on the top of this tree! And just look at those big Santa and Angel dolls. Other fun little details are notable, including a miniature church with picket fence is arranged at the base of the tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

There’s a fine art to decorating Christmas trees that’s been developing since over 100 years ago. People consider lights, garland, ornaments, skirt, and more. But one thing that’s hard to resist sometimes is just filling every available space with decorations. Clearly, that was the case years ago too. What I like about these trees is that they are so randomly shaped and even misshapen. Folks back then didn’t trim them down to a more aesthetically pleasing symmetry like we do today.

The tradition of building miniature Christmas village landscapes, including houses, animals, and other hand-crafted wooden figures, began with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the late 1800s. Mass-produced cardboard houses, sold in dimestores, became popular in the mid-20th century. Today, these villages in good condition can be highly collectible.

Below are photos of Lewis Reed’s snow village set up under the Christmas tree decorated with vintage ornaments, tinsel, and lights. I don’t remember the odd-shaped Christmas trees, but I do remember having a lot of fun helping my grandfather set up the miniature landscapes with the varied figures, little houses, and trees at Christmastime each year. It seemed like a holiday village right out of a storybook.

1900s Christmas village

A rustic picket fence is used to set off the village display. Dangling strands of tinsel hang below the tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

The snow villages were set up in Lewis Reed’s basement on top of a big table beneath a small Christmas tree. He made the snow scenes entirely by hand using wire-covered cardboard and balled up paper to make hills and pathways. The little houses and figurines would fit into the landscape with cotton ‘snow’ all around; and lights would be wired underneath.

1900s Christmas village

Little houses, churches, fences, trees, and pathways were added to the scene. Some of the houses have charming light effects in the windows. The roofs of the houses were decorated with fake snow. Photo by Lewis Reed

These Christmas villages were precursors of the Holiday Villages that were made popular by Department 56 that you see today.

1900s Christmas village

Old-fashioned lights can be seen on the tree, along with lit windows in the houses. The miniature houses usually had holes in the back or the bottom through which tiny lights were placed to provide illumination. Photo by Lewis Reed

Wishing all of you who have stopped in to visit a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Stay safe and enjoy the holiday season with friends and family!

Merry Christmas

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