Week 9: Jones’s Garage

by | Aug 18, 2021 | Event, News

This week the focus is on Main Street, where so many of our businesses were repurposed from older businesses. This just reinforces what we talked about last week! That Deep River is a town with love and respect for the past, refurbishing old buildings and repurposing them rather than tearing them down to build new structures.  One of those businesses was Jones’s Garage, established by Ansel Jones in 1904, it was located at 158 Main Street Deep River, CT. Today we know this business as The Red House. 

In 1904 Jones recognized the importance of the infant automobile industry and opened a garage and repair shop behind the family home. As the business grew and expanded, he moved the business to Main Street. He sold Overland cars manufactured in Terra Haut, Indiana. The Overland Automobile Company was founded by Claude Cox in Terra Haute, Indiana, in 1903 and moved to Indianapolis in 1905. John North Willys bought the failing firm in 1908, turned its fortunes around, and relocated the company to Toledo, Ohio. At $665, this four-cylinder Overland cost more than a Ford Model T, but it offered more style and comfort.

Ansel R. Jones was an important part of Deep River’s story.  He was born in Deep River in 1875, educated in the local schools and Hannum’s Business College. After college, Ansel was employed by Pratt, Read & Co. Later, he became a junior partner with his father in Niland Cut Glass Company. He oversaw the mechanical department and also cut many of the glass pieces sold by the company. The Niland Cut Glass Company moved to Buffalo, NY in 1904 and Ansel established the Jones Garage behind his home on Main Street.  He was a charter member of the Chemical Engine Co. as a volunteer fireman. At the age of 29, in 1904, Ansel was elected Foreman (Chief) of the fire company, a position he held for only one year, however, he remained an active fireman until 1935. In 1905 he attached the Chemical Engine to the back of his automobile and towed it to a fire. This was such a successful practice that the company began researching motorized fire vehicles.   Ansel was instrumental in adapting the Chemical Engine tanks to a second-hand Pope Hartford Touring car as Deep River’s first motorized fire truck in 1914. Ansel, like his father, also represented the town in the State Legislature. When he sold his garage in 1930, he became involved with the Deep River Saving Bank as a director, trustee, and appraiser. 

Look around you and find other shops on Main Street that are still recognizable from the past. 

Deep River Pharmacy was run by Edgar LaPlace, then later Henry Heiney Trogen in the 1950s, and the First National Store all of which today is The Great Wall Chinese Restaurant and Quality Collectables.

Richard Spencer had built his home on the corner of Village and Main Streets in 1881, in the widely popular Queen Anne style.  Although the Library Association raised money to purchase the Spencer home for the new library, the Association gave the home to the town as a gift for the purpose of a town library. This Library opened on May 10, 1933, with Claire E. Moore as its first librarian. The porch has been closed in to create more room but very little has changed. 

The Dudley Block across the street also had a pharmacy and soda fountain. It also sold cigarettes, cigars, and newspapers. Now it’s called Hally Jo’s, but how many remember when it was the Short Stop? 

The Banks have endured the most change but they still stand in the same locations and serve the same purpose. 

Post your photos of Main Street to your FB page and tag us, and grab a bite to eat where Jones Garage once stood! Keep up the good work. You are nearing the end of the challenge. Only three weeks to go. 

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