Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1957 Mansfield Borough History
Chapter XII The Automobile
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1957 Mansfield Borough History Table of Contents
Submitted by Chester P. Bailey
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Cathy Knights
History of Mansfield Borough 1857-1957

by George A. Retan, Ph.D.
Pictures Collected by Chester P. Bailey

Published by The Council of Mansfield Borough 1956
Copyright Mansfield Advertiser 1957
Reprinted on Tri-Counties Site by permission of Chester P. Bailey, former owner of Mansfield Advertiser

Chapter XII - The Automobile
  1. Paving



    The Automobile came to Mansfield when Ed Ross bought a three-wheel White Steamer in 1902 and changed to a Stanley Steamer in 1903. Also in 1903 George A. Clark had an Oldsmobile with handle steering. From this time on changes in the appearance of Mansfield came with increasing rapidity. In 1905 the road from Mansfield to Covington was built and on September 4th the council adopted the provisions of the State law regarding aid in the development of highways and there was much discussion on the relative merits of "brick" and "McAdam" roads. In 1906 there was a formal request to the state for paving Main, Elmira and Wellsboro Streets. In 1907 an ordinance was passed to accept state aid for a sixteen-foot payment, partly brick and partly macadam for Main Street to Elmira Street, West Elmira Street and Wellsboro Street.

    However, no action from the state was forthcoming until in 1913 there was another petition made. This time there was favorable action and in 1914, at a special election, a $30,000.00 bond issue was authorized for highway construction. On May 13th the contract was signed and on July 21st an ordinance was passed that property owners pay two-thirds of the cost where extra width was provided. The road was of brick construction, fifty-six feet wide from Central Street to Normal Avenue, then dropped to forty feet to Elmira Street and the railroad, and then to sixteen feet. In 1915 extra paving from Second Street to Fourth Street was laid with the property owners paying two-thirds the cost.

    The first speed limit signs were authorized on Oct. 7, 1913, and in 1916 there were complaints about speeding on Main Street. The next step was the authorization of gas pumps as detailed later.

    In 1920, April 12, an ordinance was passed providing for the paving of Main Street from prospect Street to the Borough line. By 1923 the citizens were demanding better roads on the side streets and the paving of East Wellsboro, Central, Railroad from Central to Elmira streets was authorized. This was done by the company which was building the road from Mansfield to Tioga.

    In 1924 East Wellsboro Street was paved after a meeting of the citizens affected had been held and agreed to pay the one-third cost of the extra width. By this date the road to Troy was nearly finished. An election for the approval of an additional bond issue of $10,000.00 for road construction was held and the issue approved, but was not used until 1930.

    In 1926 was passed the first Traffic ordinance. Also an Ordinance was passed providing for the paving of Elmira Street subject to State acceptance, but was not accepted.

    In 1928, St. James, First, Second, Normal Avenue, Sherwood and Elmira Street to Extension were paved. In this year also the State built the new concrete bridge over Corey Creek at Main Street.

    In 1934, E. Elmira Street from Extension Street to the Borough limits was paved by the State and Decker Street also. These were made State Highways. West Wellsboro Street was paved by the State and the extra width from the railroad bridge to Main Street was financed by the Borough and property owners.

    In 1936, the East Main Street paving to Second Street was authorized and North Main Street was improved by the State.

    In 1939, N. Academy Street was paved from Sullivan Street to Elmira Street and in 1940 the Council approved the plans of the State to widen and repave South Main Street and to pave a thirty-six-foot road from the railroad bridge to the Borough line on the new road to Wellsboro.

    In 1945, the State Highway Department resurfaced E. Wellsboro and Sullivan Streets and in 1946 rebuilt N. Main from Prospect Street to the Borough line.

  3. Garages
Probably the first garage in Mansfield was an old blacksmith shop on the lot across from the Episcopal Church, in 1909, run by Rockwell and Baker. In 1918, two permits for gas pumps to be placed in front of business places were granted, and by 1925 many others had been requested. In 1921, C. M. Thompson built a "drive-in" station on N. Main Street, No. 97 said to be the first such station between Buffalo and Washington. It has been an "Atlantic Station" since that time.

In 1920, R. M. Swan built the garage, 31 S. Main Street, and in 1923 Sam Bishop the garage at the corner of College Avenue and Main Street. Bryan Husted bought the Swan Garage, known since as the Chevrolet Garage, and in 1931 built an addition at 25 S. Main Street which is now occupied by the Atlantic and Pacific Grocery. These two buildings were under the management of Adams from 1932. Krise from 1933, Evans from 1936 and King Rose from 1940 except for the period 1951-54 when it was run by Baldwin. The Bishop garage was run by Bishop to 1927, by Raleigh, and by Loomis until 1941 when it was sold to King Rose.

In 1920, there is mention of an Elmira Street Garage under S. B. McConnell and Son; under Herbert Crippen in 1921; McConnell and Wood later, and from 1926 mostly under Robert Wilson until 1946 when it was sold to Lester Merrick, and in 1950 to Howard Davis.

Around 1927 the McClure Motor Co., had a garage in a wooden building where 25 S. Main Street now is. When this was torn down by Bryan Husted they moved, 1931, to 17 N. Main Street and were there until about 1934.

In 1925 Kilgore built the second "drive-in" station and Garage at 133 N. Main Street and continued there until he sold to Wells and Goodall in 1938. This firm had started in the rear of 17 N. Main Street about 1935 and has continued to the present, also starting the only tire recapping business in Mansfield in 1944.

Howard Davis started a garage in the old Hoard Barn on Hoard Street in 1929. In 1930, he moved to the old livery barn back of the Adams Block selling Plymouth and Chrysler cars. In 1935, he built the concrete garage at 19 E. Wellsboro Street where he remained until 1945 when he leased to Howard Brown, who was there until 1954.

Kilgore, in 1929, started another Filling Station and Garage at 167 Sullivan Street. He sold to Lester Merrick in 1936. Lee Smith bought the plant in 1946, but sold to Bernard Randolph in 1950. This Garage was greatly enlarged by Lester Merrick.

In 1934, C. L. Johnson built the large concrete Garage at 19 S. Main Street for his trucking business. In 1956, he leased the main portion to Ralph Evans for a Ford Agency.

In 1934, the old DeWitt brick house at 44 S. Main Street was torn down and a "drive-in" filling station erected there by Harry Taylor.

In 1944, a garage was built at the south end of town and in 1948 Wilson and Knapp built a garage on N. Academy Street near Corey Creek.

Early automobile dealers were: W. C. Miller, who had the first Ford agency in 1906, later the Dodge, and in 1970 the Reo; Charles Early who was the second Ford dealer, E. C. Russell, who was the second Dodge Dealer; Wm. Kilgore, who sold at various times the Chalmers, the Cole 8, and the Studebaker; Manley Benson, who, in 1916, sold the Overland.

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