City Firehouse Once Served as Car Dealership

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City Firehouse Once Served as Car Dealership


Several significant building projects took place in downtown Richmond in 1919. One was the construction of the Richmond Motor Co. building on West Main, now the home of Richmond Fire Department's Station No. 1. The Richmond Motor Co. was formed in 1919 by several well-known local men: J. Hale Dean, M.C. Kellogg, J.J. Greenleaf, Robert Maupin, and Frank Chase. In February of that year they purchased the old McCreary property next door to the post office and federal court building, now Richmond's city hall. The old brick two-story house, built right up at the front sidewalk, was the birthplace of Gov. James B. McCreary and one of the oldest houses in Richmond. After being in the McCreary family for many years, it was sold by the governor's son Robert to A.R. Burnam, who in turn sold it to the local automobile group. The price paid was reported by the Register to be about $6,500. At the March 1919 meeting of the City Council, Col. N.B. Deatherage, representing the First Christian Church, expressed some concerns of the congregation that the garage would become a nuisance in the vicinity of the churches: but the city fathers refused to impede the construction project, saying that the noise and clutter would all be behind the building, and never on Sunday. Moreover, the handsome facade would be a decided improvement to Main Street. The Walker property on the west side of the McCreary homestead did not become the site of the United Methodist Church until 1927. The Richmond Motor Co. tore down the old house and constructed a fireproof brick-and-steel building 57-by-100 feet, using some of the brick from the old house. When the grand opening was held in early 1920, the building was one of the first in the state to be built specifically for the sale and service of automobiles. In those days, most dealerships were started in old livery stables, blacksmith shops or "filling stations." The dealerships for Dodge and Nash automobiles were obtained at the start, and the Ford was soon added. In February 1919, even before their building was constructed, Dean and Maupin went to the 1919 Louisville Automobile Show and drove back a new Nash sedan for display. Some older residents may remember that M.C. Kellogg had an old Model T Ford (minus the en-gine and some other parts) placed up on the roof at the front of the building, in the late 1920s, probably in 1927. It stayed up there until about 1942, when it was removed, possibly for scrap iron for the World War II war effort. Up through the 1960's, Richmond Motor Co. was the dealer for Dodge and Plymouth automobiles. Gasoline pumps located on the sidewalk at the edge of the street dispensed gas for many years at 18.9 cents a gallon. But those days are gone forever: a modern fire department and the police headquarters now occupy the building.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “City Firehouse Once Served as Car Dealership,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed June 15, 2024,