Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 19, 2017, pg. 5
Another downtown Albion business building is 100 years old this year. The building presently housing Albion Auto Mart at 119 E. Michigan Avenue on the northwest corner of Ionia St. was constructed in the spring of 1917 for dealer Louis F. Striker at a cost of $5,000. Striker (who died November 10, 1940 in Grand Rapids) lived at 312 Brockway Place with his wife Mae. He had attended Albion College from 1902 to 1905. He was a star left-handed pitcher for the College baseball team and served as team captain. Following College he was employed as a shipping clerk at the Union Steel Screen Company before going into the automobile business.
Mr. Striker opened Albion’s first Dodge automobile dealership here which opened in April, 1917. The Albion Recorder stated on February 21, 1917: "It will be occupied by the Dodge service station, an extensive automobile repair department, including a large machine shop at the north end, and plenty of storage space. Over the front part…will be built a small second story for a vulcanizing department. The large basement will be used for storage of cars."
Striker owned and operated the dealership here until 1923. That year he sold it to Chevrolet car dealer and former Albion Mayor Daniel McAuliffe for his son, "Dick" Richard McAuliffe, who continued with the Dodge franchise. In 1927 however, Daniel moved his Chevrolet dealership in with his son and the duo then just sold Chevrolet and Chrysler cars. The Dodge franchise was relinquished by the McAuliffe’s and sold to Leon Weeks and John Howard, who continued that brand at another location. The building then became just the local Chevrolet car dealership for many years.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an early photograph of the original Dodge building with the sign stating "Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles," and "Dodge Brothers Motor Cars" in the window. Notice the gas pump in front. This photo was taken around 1923 after Dick McAuliffe assumed the franchise. The scene shows a tow truck with its catch. Sitting on the hood are employees (all hired by McAuliffe) Floyd Osborn and Bill Bentley. Sitting on the running board are Wayne "Mike" Thomson, Murrel Sleeper, and Paul Rabakon.
Rabakon was the longest employee, working from 1923 to 1941, at which time he opened his own garage. Osborn worked as a mechanic and later moved to Battle Creek where he operated his Osborn Excavating Service on Raymond Road. Bentley subsequently became an executive for an airline in the southern United States. Thomson later moved to Battle Creek and worked for DeNooyer Brothers auto firm for many years. Sleeper operated an auto repair shop here during the 1930s, and later moved to Sturgis where he was employed as a design engineer.
This building continued in use in the local auto industry through the years, except the front half during the 1960s. In 1960 the Albion Econowash Laundromat managed by Walter Oppel opened in the front portion. It was succeeded in 1962 by the Norge Laundry and Cleaning Village owned by Robert Berkheimer, which operated throughout the rest of the decade. Today, Albion Auto Mart continues the automobile tradition in this building. Do drop by and give the Arey brothers congratulations in their historical building on its 100th anniversary.
Dodge Dealership of Louis Striker
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic