News: Spencer History – Garages


Surnames: Herman, Schofield, Willner, Jacobitz, Harding, Sersch, Walti, Peissig, Mitchell, Cool, Vanderhoof, Blanchard, LaMont, Jensen, Knickel, Damrow, Summers, Neidlein, Dickman, Mellenthin

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

Henry Ford built his first automobile manufacturing plant in 1903 in Michigan and in the following years introduced the assembly line. Along with the Ford there were many other makers of autos and the demand for garages was realized by many.

John Herman and Arlie Schofield erected a garage on LaSalle Street where they had the agency for Crow-Elkhart and Maxwell cars. The next owner was E. G. Ingham. His son, Guy, had the agency for the Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and he also experimented with a side car for bicycles. Russell and Clyde Jacobitz ran this garage in 1929 and 1930. Lester Willner and Ed Harding bought and operated the business for four years, and then sold to Arnold Sersch and Harold Walti. Ted Peissig was the last known owner.

Fred Mitchell and George Cool built the "Public Garage" on Clark Street, sold and repaired the Willis-Overland auto. Wes Vanderhoof purchased the business and his son and daughter-in-law, Guy and Polly, operated it. During World War I, Guy joined the armed forces, and Polly, along with Fred Mitchell, operated the business. Ken Blanchard and Earl LaMont operated the garage for a time and on February 1, 1930 William Jensen leased the building and he purchased it in 1937 from Wes Vanderhoof, naming it Jensen's Garage. In 1945, Bill took over the Ford agency for Spencer and remodeled the building. An addition was built on the west side to accommodate the servicing of large transport trucks. The business was incorporated in 1958 as Jensen Motors and later his sons, DuWayne and Eugene, joined the firm. DuWayne sold his interest in 1972.

Charles Fisher and Len Knickel built a garage on the corner of Wisconsin and Clark Street. They sold Gardiner and Oakland cars. This business was sold to H. E. Meyer of Stetsonville with Fisher remaining as a mechanic.

Ed Damrow was the next owner and he later sold to Otto Summers who secured the Chevrolet Agency. In 1944, Harold Freeman and Clyde Jacobitz bought this firm and operated it under the name of F. & J. Garage. They built a new garage in 1954 south on Highway 13, under the same name. Russell, son of Harold Freeman, joined the firm as a stockholder. Warren Jacobitz and Ted Neidlein also joined the firm and they sold Studebaker cars, Allis Chalmers and New Holland machinery. They also bought and sold used cars and used farm implements. When Harold and Clyde retired, Russell bought all the stock and continued to operate the business until he sold to Ed Dickman, who built the Village Plaza, using the existing building as a nucleus for the present building.

The old F & J building on Clark Street became a part of Pathfinder Mobilehome Inc. as a welding and paint shop, later burning out. It stood idle until Jacobitz Service bought and remodeled it in 1971.
Jacobitz Service was originally started by Warren Jacobitz when he built a garage on Wisconsin Street in 1962. In 1963 Clyde Jacobitz and Ted Neidlein joined him and they sold used cars for a year. Warren bought them out and operated it as a garage, car lot and small engine repair shop until 1970 when he, his son, W. Frank and Dennis Mellenthin formed a partnership, calling it Jacobitz Service. They operated there until 1971 when they remodeled the present location. Dennis sold his share in 1971. In 1972 the original site was remodeled for the Self-Service Car Wash.




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