Pinkham & Wright Ford Dealership

On October 3, 1899, the first "horseless carriage" passed through Hillsdale to the amazement of the locals. In the early 1900s acquiring a new automobile was literally front page news. The only rule of the road was the vague assumption from horse and buggy days that you stayed to the right. Speaking from observation, the newspaper cautioned the "autoists" that "accidents to pedestrians and people in carriages are very possible."

Pinkham and Wright set up shop originally on Broad Street. There they employed men to assemble Ford autos that were shipped in component parts. In various automobile businesses, the men worked in teams, sometimes challenging other teams to see who could get their car up and running the fastest.

When Pinkham and Wright first proposed to City Council that they build a larger place on McCollum Street for their expanding business, they met firm opposition because the area was residential. By September 1919 sentiments changed, and they built a large brick building (which later became Montgomery Ward and then the Mid-Town Building). The second floor of their business was called a dance hall, but held many public functions. The most memorable (at least to the children involved) was a clinic held by the Health Department, where scores of tonsils were removed with the efficiency of the automobile assembly on the first floor.

As cars replaced horses, gasoline stations replaced the line of livery stables on Carleton Road west of Broad Street.  Along "Gasoline Alley" were filling stations like Laird's Mobil, Hi-Speed Station and Shell Oil, as well as stations for Sunoco, Standard and Hy-Flash. It was a new era for transportation.


JoAnne P. Miller