Car Dealerships Revisited; Downtown St. Cloud
The St. Cloud area has a long history of car dealerships in the community. Local historian Jim Grabinski joined me on WJON to examine the history. This is the first installment starting with downtown St. Cloud dealerships.
John Tenvoorde led a group of dutch settlers from Pennsylvania, then to Indiana and then St. Cloud. His son Steve in 1901 began selling cars from his bicycle shop in downtown St. Cloud. He signed the second Ford franchise on March 21, 1903, before Ford Motor Co. was incorporated that June. The first Tenvoorde location was located near what is now the Paramount Theater. In 1910 Tenvoorde built a new dealership at 211 5th Avenue South in downtown St. Cloud. Chipotle and Noodles are currently in that location and occupy the building once occupied by Tenvoorde Ford. The first Ford dealership opened in February of 1903 in San Francisco and Tenvoorde opened in March of 1903. In 1997 Tenvoorde became the World's Oldest family held franchise. In 1915 Tenvoorde dropped its other car lines and sold Fords exclusively.
In 1978 Tenvoorde Ford opened their new location on 2nd Street South, which is where they are now. Mike Tenvoorde recalls the only road next to the building was on the north side of the building because 2nd Street wasn't there yet. Mike, Debbie, and Brian Tenvoorde are the 4th generation of owners/operators of Tenvoorde Ford.
At it's peak downtown St. Cloud had 13 car dealerships. The Baston Motor Company opened in 1939 by Bert Baston who purchased the Schlough Motor Company. The location was at 918 St. Germain Street. Mahowald Insurance is in that current location. Baston sold Chevrolet cars and in 1965 moved to 3019 Division Street. Baston sold the dealership to Gilleland in 1987. Jim Grabinski says Baston played college football and also became the line coach for the Gophers.
The Pickard Motor Company opened downtown at 200 6th Avenue South in 1941. This is where Beaver Island Brewing currently is. Pickard purchased the dealership from Holt Motor. Pickard sold Plymouth cars.
Hornibook W.J. Company sold American motor cars at 129 6th Avenue South. In 1969 they sold to Tuffey Kampa, who moved it to 2820 1st Street South. The lady slipper parking it there now.
Klein Motor Company started in downtown St. Cloud in 1934. It was located at 908 St. Germain Street across the street from the Breen Hotel which is now Germain Towers. Grabinski says boxer Jack Dempsey once stayed at the Breen Hotel and stored his car at Klein Motor Company. After World World II in 1950 Bill Klein Jr. opened a Oldsmobile-Cadillac agency at Division Street and 6th Avenue South. (Grandstay is there now) He operated it for 47 years before selling it to Gilleland Chevrolet.
Miller Auto Center purchased the auto business from Thies-Mayman in 1959. Miller operated it at 1214 St. Germain Street downtown. They sold Pontiacs and Fiats. In 1997 they moved into the former Knox Lumber Company building on 2nd Street South. In 2005 the city of St. Cloud purchased the former downtown location and built the Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud.
This it the first installment of our car dealership history in the St. Cloud area. The next installment will be available Friday February 16.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Jim Grabinski it is available below.
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