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A.W. Blanchard, a modern garage in Brooklyn, NY


This is one of a series of photos connected to A. W. Blanchard who first stated out in the automobile business at 107 Liberty St. in Brooklyn, NY. His business must have prospered with the three brands he handled; Fiat, Oldsmobile and Herreshoff. Blanchard then built this new garage at 342 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn. The photo above shows a circa 1911 Pierce-Arrow in the doorway, which is right about the time it appears he to have built this facility.

Here he sold the Fiat and others and also stored and repaired cars for customers as was the custom at the time. The well equipped office can be seen (left photo below) with a typewriter, safe, cash register and a telephone at the far right, that appears to possibly be on top of an intercom system. The (center) photo shows a car evidently being given a full overhaul in the repair department. The (right) photo shows the blacksmith department with a forge and also a large torch that may have been fueled by city gas. The left side of this photo shows the machine shop, with its machinery driven by belting from over-head-shafting.

Well equipped repair garages back in that time, were set up to be able to repair or make parts. Components were commonly rebuilt or repaired, instead of replacing them as is normal today. Many of the cars early garages were called upon to repair were orphan cars that parts were unavailable for, so they many times had to make their own. Photos courtesy of Steve Blanchard


2 responses to “A.W. Blanchard, a modern garage in Brooklyn, NY

  1. My old mechanic had a father who was also a Mechanic back from the 1920s and 30s. He used to go around the shop jokingly excoriating his son. “You aren’t a real mechanic! You’re just a damn part puller.” Because, in his day, as this article suggests, a mechanic didn’t have the luxury of simply swapping out a part. If a car came in needing a part back in those days a mechanic would have to fabricate it by hand on the spot. Today Pep Boys can’t even give me the correct water pump and it’s called progress.

  2. The first photo at the top of this post actually shows 101 Liberty Street. The building to the left housed the Fulton Auto Tire Co., 99 Liberty, which performed “Steam Vulcanizing and Repairing, Oils and Grease” according to their Brooklyn directory listing. Note the number 99 and the word “Fulton” on the front door. To the right is the Lillianette Cigar Co., 105 Liberty, and on the second floor was Kelley & Kelley Flashers. The sign over the garage door is ambiguous. The 342 Flatbush location is definitely not shown in the photo. The 107 Liberty Street address does not show up in any listing for Blachard’s Fiat Motor Cars business or any of the other businesses or places mentioned below.

    Alva Ward (A.W.) Blanchard (1872 – 1956) was shown as an electrical engineer in the 1900 U.S. Census, but somehow he ended up becoming a tire detacher in the Maltby Automobile & Motor Company by 1903. The business was owned by Frank D. Maltby, who is listed as a mechanical expert in several New York city directories. His business was at 10 Clinton Street, and although it may have had a different name originally, started around 1897 at that location. Blanchard continued to work there, or be involved with the garage, at least through 1910. The 10 Clinton facility was being managed by A. Neil Wilcox during 1909 and 1910 . He apparently stayed with Blanchard as his name appears on the window of the 101 Liberty.

    By 1904 though, Maltby appears to have left his business. The next proprietor at 10 Clinton is Augustus G. (A.G.) Southworth (1870 – 1936). I believe the building at 10 Clinton while under his ownership is shown here: (first photo). The incomplete word at the top of the photo is, in all likelihood, “Southworth.” He was one of the founders behind A. G. Southworth Co., Inc. that is shown here: (fifth photo). Southworth was involved with this facility from at least 1904 to 1908.

    As early as 1902 Southworth was also involved with the building at 342 – 344 Flatbush Avenue. At this time it was called the International Motor Car Co, which sold Electric, Steam and Hydro-Carbon Automobiles, but no specific marque name is mentioned in this city directory listing. Advertisements in 1903 show he was selling Waverley, Prescott, Rambler, and Toledo Automobiles, along with providing Storage, Rental, Repairs of cars here. Southworth continued to be involved with this concern at least into 1910.

    The 342 Flatbush Ave. address was actually shown in a previous post here: (fourth photo). Above the central window is the name of John W. Sutton who was a long-time mechanical engineer. At the top of the building are the words “Rambler Riding Academy” which refers to the bicycle business that previously occupied the premises.

    The Rambler Riding Academy was actually part of the Gormully & Jeffrey Mfg. Co. who, in addition to Rambler bicycles, sold Pennant and Ideal bicycles. They had a second facility at 935-941 8th Avenue, and many more bicycle dealerships throughout the country. Notice how narrow the doors are – definitely not made for driving cars in and out. Gormully & Jeffrey started experimenting with automobiles for a couple of years before Gormully died in 1900. After Gormully’s death Jeffrey almost immediately sold the very large bicycle business to Colonel Albert Pope (yes, the man behind the Pope auto companies). Jeffrey then founded the Thomas B. Jeffrey & Company in Wisconsin to sell Rambler automobiles.

    Blanchard, Southworth, and Sutton (also a principle in A.G. Southworth Co., Inc.), all eventually came together in the Flatbush facility. Blanchard does not show this as a business address until 1910, but he continuously worked at one of Southworth’s dealerships with the possible exception of 1909. City directories also showed that in 1903 Blanchard and Southworth lived down the block from each other (832 and 806 Washington respectively). When Southworth moved in 1904 he ended up two doors away from Sutton (649 and 645 Carroll respectively).

    From 1908 – 1912 Blanchard’s name appears in many newspaper advertisements. In 1908 it is for Pope-Toledo at the Flatbush location; in 1909 it is for “Pope” Toledo, Waverly, “Electric” at 1876 Broadway; in 1910-1911 Oldsmobile is being advertised at the Flatbush shop; in 1912 both Case and Fiat are advertised at the Flatbush dealership.

    After 1910 everything changes. The [New York] Sun of Sunday, February 19, 1911, in an advertisement for the New York Auto Show, indicates that Blanchard now has two operational facilities: 342 Flatbush Ave. and 10 Clinton St. Sutton and Southworth are no longer mentioned. And the little I could find abut these businesses after this time only mentions Blanchard.

    The 101 Liberty building is not listed as part of the Blanchard business until 1912 (but no Brooklyn city directory was published in 1911). The businesses at 342 Flatbush and 101 Liberty are listed only under the name of A.W. Blanchard, Incorp. and state he sold Fiat and Case automobiles. Sometime before 1914 he may have sold off the Flatbush location because by 1914 only the Liberty location is shown in the city directories under his name. The last city directory entry I found was for 1915 (I did not find a Brooklyn city directory for 1916). Blanchard’s name is missing from the 1917 Brooklyn city directory, and in the 1920 U.S. Census his occupation is shown as a manager in a vacuum cleaner business. In 1930 he is again an automobile salesman, and in 1940 he was selling real estate.

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