Editor’s Note: Welcome to the Pioneer Association Archive, a look at some of the historical locations in Mt. Pleasant prior to the association’s annual luncheon to be held Saturday, March 16, at the Mt. Pleasant North Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 461 North 300 West. This year’s theme is “Looking Back in Time.” Doors open at 10:30 a.m., lunch at 12 noon.
MT. PLEASANT — This is the story of how the first Dodge car dealership came to Utah, but the story begins in 1914, when the well-known Dodge Brothers, John and Horace Dodge, began producing their own brand of vehicles after having made automotive parts and accessories for other well-known manufacturers such as Oldsmobile and Ford for several years.
As soon as the news about the Dodge vehicle broke out, some 22,000 people rushed to apply for Dodge Brothers dealerships and the first one in Utah came to Mt. Pleasant because two young men worked together to make it happen.
For background, note that World War I began in Europe, in 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Because of treaties that obligated other countries to defend certain other nations, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, and France were all drawn into the war.
At that time, the Dodge Brothers car was a superior design with a four-cylinder L-head engine rated at 35 horsepower. It had a twelve-volt electrical system, which was rare for its day, and an electric starter. The 2,000-pound car had an all-steel body which stood seven feet from the ground and was finished in black paint.
The Dodge Brothers vehicles were highly acclaimed for their durability in military service during the U.S. Mexico Border War, where General “Blackjack” Pershing used them for staff and reconnaissance vehicles.
Because the Dodge Brothers car was said to be as dependable as the brothers were honest, the Dodge Brothers became the fourth best selling car in the United States during their first year in business.
In April 1916, Leonard Seeley and Robert Hinckley opened the Seeley-Hinckley Automobile Co. on Mt. Pleasant’s State Street to sell Chandler, Chalmers and Dort automobiles in a building owned by Ole Hansen at approximately 49 South State. That first location was one-of-two buildings demolished in August 2018 to make room for construction of the new Wasatch Academy Engineering building to be completed later this year.
In March 1917, the Seeley-Hinckley Automotive Co. received a load of new Dodge cars to sell from their garage on Mt. Pleasant’s State Street. By April 1917, the United States joined what became known as World War I by declaring war on Germany because of attacks upon U.S. ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
Subsequently, thousands of Dodge cars and light trucks were used in World War I, including over 8,000 touring cars and 2,600 commercial vehicles, such as screen-side trucks and panel vans, used primarily as ambulances and repair trucks. For years afterward, Dodge was the United States military’s primary supplier of light wheeled vehicles.
In August 1917, it was officially announced that the Dodge Brothers had chosen Seeley-Hinckley Auto Co. as their newly appointed dealers, with exclusive selling rights to the territory.
The reputation of the Dodge Brothers motor cars meant more sales, more demand for vehicles and more needed space to display and service the vehicles for customers.
The demand was global, to give an idea of the public demand it should be noted that in 1914 the Dodge Brothers manufacturing plant in Detroit was a plant of less than 20 acres in size. In 1917, the Dodge Brothers Works covered 72 acres of floor space, employed nearly 14,000 and produced more than 400 cars per day and was having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.
With the need for more dealership space in Mt. Pleasant, a new building was announced in April 1919. It would be built on what was known as “the old Peel corner,” 100 West Main Street. Construction of the building began in July.
That new garage was said to be one of the largest in the state at the time. Measuring 55 by 200 feet, with floor space of about 12,500 feet. As a car dealership and garage, its capacity was 88 cars.
A grand opening was held Sept. 27, 1919. Celebration festivities included dancing, refreshments and the picture show “Mutt and Jeff Capture the Kaiser.”
Back in those days a new Dodge sedan or coupe cost $1,350. The Winter Touring Car or Roadster cost $1,050, while the basic Touring Car, Roadster or Commercial Car was only $8S5, (All prices f. o. b. Detroit)
F.O.B. is the acronym for Free On Board and refers to the shipping charge to get the car. F.O.B. Detroit means that if a buyer picks the car up in Detroit there is no shipping charge, but there would be shipping charges added to the car’s selling price to pick it up in Mt. Pleasant.
In today’s automotive market, all new vehicles have a destination (shipping) charge listed on the window sticker.
People can look at photos to see what a 1919 Dodge touring car looked like, but the easiest way to see one in action is by watching the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the film, George Bailey, played by actor Jimmy Stewart, drives one. It is the same car that George crashes into a tree. He later lets out a cheer of delight at the sight of his broken down Dodge. Incidentally, that car is still in operation today, just do a Google search to see the details.
The construction of Seeley-Hinckley Automotive Company building is representative of early twentieth century commercial construction with subtle suggestions of art deco. It is four bays wide along the front, with decorative brick work in flat patterns and originally had splayed entries.
In 1927, Robert Hinckley moved the Dodge dealership to Ogden, but the Mt. Pleasant shop was apparently used as an additional show room until April 1929, when it was sold to Osmond Crowther of Fountain Green Garage and then used as a Ford dealership.
Over time the building has been host for several uses after being converted to a multi-use building. Records indicate that in 1923 part of the building was used for the U.S. Post Office. In 1932, Eatinger’s Sandwich Shop Café used the building.
At the rear there was a fire station at one time. It also housed Squire Jewelry and Floral, Forsey Ice Cream and a barber shop in the front section. Valley Builders Lumber was located in the central section, and six residential apartments in the north section.
The building was the home of The Pyramid newspaper for several years. In 1959, Elvin Francis Frandsen opened the “Triangle Lounge” which has been in operation by various owners for 60 years and is currently known as Stanley’s Triangle Lounge.
In about 2001, one front section became the home of Hub City Pizza. That section is now where Main Street Pizza resides. There are still apartments located in the north section.