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THEN & NOW photos of present Doll Building at 337 West Market Street in York, PA. THEN photo from when building served as City Hotel per 1913 postmarked postcard. NOW photo is per Google Streetview of November 2023.

Doll’s Pontiac Garage began as City Hotel of a Kindig horse dealer

What was your favorite Pontiac? Was it purchased at Doll’s Pontiac in York? That building at 337 West Market Street was built in 1887 as the City Hotel of Eli Kindig, the patriarch of horse dealers and antiquarians. Fascinating stories of folks and businesses associated with the building are shared in this post.

Two examples: Thomas Daryman made extensive improvements to cater to automobile tourists in 1915; one of the earliest to do so along the Lincoln Highway. York brewer Theodore Helb had a big impact on the building’s conversion to a car dealership in 1920. Today the Doll Building contains retail and office spaces on the first floor, plus 13 apartments on the upper floors, having been renovated in 2018 by Royal Square Development and Construction.

The impetus for the research behind this post comes from frequent queries associated with my post about the Twin Barns which stood along Mt. Rose Avenue near Haines Road. At the Twin Barns Joe Kindig, Sr. bought and sold horses after moving much of the business in 1916 from the site in the city where his father, Eli Kindig, established a prominent horse dealership.

Deed research and newspaper articles answered the inquiries, however in doing so many more neat details about individuals associated with the Doll Building were discovered; which are not common knowledge, hence they are shared in this post. If you want an overview, just read the text of this post. For a greater in-depth understanding, a few of the key newspaper articles are included.

Kindig Family

Back to the time of the Civil War, the primary business of Eli Kindig was conducted to the rear of hotels on West Market Street, stretching all the way northward to Philadelphia Street. There, the Kindig family operated the largest horse dealership in York. Of that business, the 1886 directory of York lists: “Eli Kindig & Sons (Eli, Benjamin F., Eli Jr., Henry Harrison, Joseph, Milton and Frederick ) horse dealers, rear States Union Hotel.”

Eli Kindig (1823-1891) is the father of Joe Kindig, Sr. (1857-1934). Joe Sr. is the horse dealer noted in the Twin Barns post. Joe Sr.’s son Joe Kindig, Jr. (1898-1971) and grandson Joe Kindig III (1923-2021) were primarily antiquarians. Joe Kindig III is also known for his involvement in preserving York’s Golden Plough Tavern & Gates House complex in 1963.

States Union Hotel

In 1863, Eli Kindig and Fred Klinepeter purchase Charles Strine’s Tavern/Hotel/Stables site along the north side of West Main Street in York. Using a Windsor Township farm as his base, Eli Kindig established a horse dealership on the large lot he now owns to the rear of the hotel property. Fred Klinepeter becomes the owner of the renamed States Union Hotel. Klinepeter is the initial proprietor, however after a few years he leases the hotel/tavern to William Krantz, followed by Oliver Deardorff, as the proprietors. Following the death of Fred Klinepeter in 1881, Eli Kindig purchases the States Union Hotel, with Oliver Deardorff continuing his lease.

On August 27, 1885, a fire spread through the attic of weather-boarded, frame-built States Union Hotel. The fire department promptly responded and distinguished the fire, with an estimated loss to the building of about $800. Two weeks later, on September 12th, newspapers report the States Union Hotel has been thoroughly repaired and is again in “apple-pie” order. Nevertheless it seems the seed was planted with Eli Kindig to replace the aging frame-build hotel with a brick structure.

On January 7, 1887, Eli Kindig awarded a contract to raze the States Union Hotel and build a new four-story brick hotel. The contract was with the local York firm Menough & Yessler. James Menough and Emanuel Yessler operate their Carpentry and Building Contractor firm at 446-452 West Philadelphia Street. Demolition of the States Union Hotel was done in April 1887.

Article about the new City Hotel, which is being erected by Mr. Eli Kindig on the site of the old States Union Hotel. (The York Daily, July 7, 1887, Pg. 1)

The July newspaper article is one of a string of 1887 articles providing construction updates. “The new City Hotel, which is being erected by Mr. Eli Kindig on the site of the old States Union Hotel, West Market Street, is progressing satisfactorily. The front elevation makes an imposing appearance.”

City Hotel

Eli Kindig named his new 4-story brick structure City Hotel. It opened December 14, 1887 and featured sixty guest rooms. Clem Flemming obtained the lease, as the initial proprietor, to manage the hotel.

The new City Hotel opened Wednesday December 14, 1887. (York Democratic Press, Friday December 16, 1887, Pg. 3)

As reported: “the halls, and stairways, mantels, etc. are handsomely furnished.” The City Hotel “presents an appearance whose superior can not be found outside the largest cities.”

A horse and carriage portal is built into the east side of the City Hotel to provide direct Market Street access to the hotel stables and stockyards to the rear of the hotel, where Eli Kindig & Sons continued to conduct their horse and mule dealership.

Following the death of Eli Kindig in 1891, his sons, as a group, continue leasing out the City Hotel property, while conducting the horse dealership to the rear. However in 1895 after making appropriate payments to the other children, the ownership of the City Hotel goes to Eli’s sons: Benjamin Kindig and Henry Kindig. While Eli’s son, Joe Kindig, Sr. takes charge of the Kindig horse business in York.

At the turn of the Century, Joe Kindig, Sr. begins selling the northern section of the horse and mule stockyards that originally stretched north all the way to Philadelphia Street. The row homes from 324 to 344 West Philadelphia Street are built on that section of the Kindig stockyards.

Until the early 1920s, Joe Kindig, Sr. continues to conduct horse and mule sales on his stockyards to the “rear at City Hotel.” However after 1901, the horse and mule sales are actually confined to stockyard structures further back from the rear of the hotel, i.e. along the north side of Clark Alley. The annual quantity of Kindig sales, from the city stockyards, appears to have a continual slow decline since about 1900. And beginning about 1910, a more rapid rate of sales decline commences. A 1910 sale, from a fresh shipment of 250 Horses and mules, is indicated in the following ad.

After Eli Kindig’s Estate is settled, from 1895 and onward Joe Kindig, Sr. has charge of the Kindig horse business in York. (The York Dispatch, September 6, 1910, Pg. 7)

In 1901, Benjamin Kindig and Henry Kindig sell the City Hotel to Joseph A. Ocker for $26,500. Ocker had previously leased the hotel from the Kindig brothers and served as its proprietor since 1897. Thus in 1901, Joseph A. Ocker became both owner and proprietor of the City Hotel, plus he started his own horse dealership out of the stables immediately to the rear of the hotel. Starting in 1903, Ocker has other proprietors manage his hotel; including: Charles Zullinger, son Joseph A. Ocker, Jr., and Daniel Ritter.

City Hotel caters to Automobile Tourists

In 1915, Joseph Ocker had not been paying his taxes for some time, resulting in the City Hotel being sold at a Sheriff’s Sale. Theodore R. Helb, the brewer and owner of the Keystone Brewery in York, acquired the City Hotel. Helb immediately sold the hotel to Thomas Daryman.

In 1915, Thomas Daryman purchases the City Hotel and plans extensive improvements, which cater to automobile tourists. (The York Dispatch, August 17, 1915, Pg. 8)

Thomas Daryman decided to make extensive interior and exterior improvements, to cater to automobile tourists. A family friendly restaurant was added and the stables immediately to the rear of the hotel were converted into a large car garage. Possibly this decision was made because one year earlier the roadway by the City Hotel was selected as the official Lincoln Highway route. The result was one of the earliest roadside establishments that specifically catered to automobile tourists along the Lincoln Highway.

Daryman’s bankruptcy in 1918 resulted in the sale of the City Hotel. Theodore R. Helb was again the buyer, taking ownership on August 20, 1918. This time Helb held onto the property, very likely thinking ahead that it might make a good place for a car dealership.

Franklin Auto Dealership

Theodore Helb owned Franklin Automobiles prior to becoming a major investor in the Franklin Auto Company, York, when it was incorporated on February 22, 1918. This organization consolidated prior businesses distributing Franklin autos in York and Adams counties into a common site for sales, repair and service. The struggling Cooper Motor Company leased the majority of their building at 207 West Market Street to the new regional Franklin Auto distributor. The Colonial Court House now sits at that location.

Franklin Automobiles were produced from 1902 to 1934 in Syracuse, New York. All Franklin autos used air-cooled engines, as opposed to most car manufacturers, which used water-cooled engines requiring radiators. Franklin also produced air-cooled engines for light aircraft. In 1908, John W. Richley, then operating a business at 25-29 South Beaver Street, was the earliest York dealer to distribute Franklin autos, among other makes. In April 1908 the seven-passenger Franklin automobile, which held the record of driving from San Francisco to New York in 15 days, was displayed at Richley’s business for several days.

Late in 1918, the management of the regional Franklin Auto Company at 207 West Market Street decided to also distribute Oldsmobiles and expand their used car business. That required a company name change to E. A. Clark Auto Company.

Early in 1919, E. A. Clark Auto Company moves to bigger quarters, leasing former facilities of the J. P. Oden Auto Company at 24-28 West Philadelphia Street. Franklin auto sales continued their rapid growth at the dealership. On August 29, 1919, the E. A. Clark Auto Company purchases the City Hotel property, at 335-337 West Market Street from Theodore R. Helb. The auto company took possession on February 1, 1920, after the lease expired with Sterrett Weiser, the proprietor managing the hotel for Helb.

E. A. Clark Auto Company purchased the City Hotel from York brewer Theodore Helb. (Gazette & Daily, Aug. 30, 1919, Pg. 5)

Architects John B. Hamme and G. Frank Witman are tasked with creating plans for conversion of the City Hotel into large modern auto showrooms with service and repair facilities for the E. A. Clark Auto Company.

City Hotel redeveloped as a Car Dealership

In 1920, the first floor of the City Hotel is transformed into two large auto showrooms with sales offices. An adjoining 65 by 100-feet building is constructed for repair work plus auto and parts storage. Part of the basement is converted into a restaurant. The 60 hotel guest rooms on the upper floors are repurposed as 12 apartments. The brick exterior is covered in Hercules Magnesite Stucco, which contains no lime or cement hair or water and hardens very densely, yet it is flexible and guaranteed not to crack or fall off. A March 22, 1920 news article indicates the apartments will be ready for occupancy on April 1. On April 30, E.A. Clark Auto Company moved from their West Philadelphia Street location into their 335-337 West Market Street facility.

E. A. Clark Auto Company conversion of City Hotel property includes: 12 apartments on the upper floors, auto display room on the first floor, restaurant in the basement and a 65 by 100 feet garage for storage and repair work. (The York Dispatch, March 22, 1920, Pg. 9)

E. A. Clark Auto Company

The sales of new Franklin cars vastly dominated the business of E. A. Clark Auto Company. As a result their building came to be called the Franklin Building.

E. A. Clark Auto Company became a prime sales agent for Franklin automobiles, even naming their building as such. (The Gazette & Daily, January 22, 1921, Pg. 1)

A year later Franklin Automobile Company placed the following full-page ad in The Gazette & Daily explaining the features of the Franklin automobile being sold by the E. A. Clark Auto Company. Eleven of the Franklin dealers in surrounding counties are also listed at the bottom of that ad.

CLICK to ENLARGE . . . . . Full-page ad explains the features of the Franklin automobile being sold by the E. A. Clark Auto Company. (The Gazette & Daily, York, PA, February 6, 1922, Pg. 2)

The 1923 Directory of York contains the following listing for the E. A. Clark Auto Company. President of the company is Edward A. Clark, Vice President is Theodore R. Helb. Treasurer is Horace Brillinger, and secretary is Freda F. Clark.

1923 York Directory listing the officers of E. A. Clark Auto Company (1923 York City Directory, R. L. Polk & Company, Pg. 426)

In the fall of 1923, the management of E. A. Clark Auto Company began exploring becoming a Franklin and Ford dealership instead of Franklin and Oldsmobile. This did not sit well with Franklin Automobile Company management, who in October 1923 terminated their dealership agreement with E. A. Clark Auto Company.

The Franklin Automobile Company set up the firm Taylor and Homer in York as the new regional Franklin dealer for York and Adams Counties. Wiley Taylor and Frank Homer had experience at the Franklin dealership in West Chester. Taylor and Homer leased the offices and garage at 734-736 Roosevelt Avenue, which were recently vacated by D. E. Stetler.

The management of the E. A. Clark Auto Company continued to pursue obtaining a Ford dealership and in their attempt to do so they dropped the Oldsmobile dealership. The business switched to only selling used cars, with an emphasis on used Fords, while billing themselves as “The House of Ford Service.”

Doll’s Garage

E. A. Clark Auto Company never obtained a Ford dealership. With overall business down, they downsized in 1925, selling their 335-339 West Market Street facilities to Jacob A. Doll, the proprietor of the Hupmobile Garage at Philadelphia and West Streets, where Doll established the business in 1921.

Jacob Doll moved into the West Market Street facilities July 13, 1925. Doll’s Garage sold Hupmobiles there until 1936, when he secured a Pontiac sales and service dealership.

Doll’s Garage was a Pontiac sales and service dealer from 1936 to 1972. The business was owned and operated by Jacob A. Doll. During the initial years at 337-347 West Market Street, from 1925 to 1936, he was a Hupmobile dealer. (The Gazette & Daily, Aug. 18, 1953, Pg. 20)

Jacob Doll sold the Pontiac Dealership at 337-347 West Market Street in 1972 to Albert and Ronald Rohall. They operated Rohall Pontiac until 1976. Donald A. Williams purchased the business in 1976. Don Williams Pontiac became the final car dealership operating at the site, closing in 1979.

After sitting idle for several years, the Office of Housing Rehabilitation of the City of York rehabilitated the building in the early 1980s. After which upper floor apartments continued to be rented. Auctioneer Shirley Noonan conducted public auctions in a first floor showroom for a few years, and later First Capitol Antiques was briefly located in the building. Today the Doll Building contains retail and office spaces on the first floor, plus 13 apartments on the upper floors, having been renovated in 2018 by Royal Square Development and Construction.

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.

Links to related posts:

A Century ago Ten-Millionth Ford in York on coast-to-coast tour

The Famed Twin Barns along Mt. Rose Avenue

Where to buy a Hupmobile, Marmon, LaSalle, Erskine, Oakland or Pierce-Arrow in York?

York was in danger of losing the Lincoln Highway during 1914

York architect John B. Hamme

Henry Ford motored to York on the Lincoln Highway in 1929

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts