DAYS GONE BY: Angus MacLeod and the Ford Motor Company Sales Agency
By Jane A. Allison
Lake County Historical Society
One of the largest deals made in early Baldwin history was the transfer of the Ford Sales Agency from George F. Duffing to the MacLeod Auto Sales. The transfer not only covered the change of the sales end of the business, but involved the erection of a new garage and salesroom on the site of the Baldwin Garage. George F. Duffing had charge of Ford Sales for fourteen years prior to this transfer in ownership. The Baldwin Garage was located on the present day site of what was formerly the Jerry's Food Market on Michigan Avenue.
In the early 1920's, Angus MacLeod was a well-know Baldwin figure in the garage business. He took over the management of the Baldwin Garage, succeeding James G. Kennedy, who had operated it sometime after its purchase by George F. Duffing. Following a fatal accident to Mrs. Kennedy in August of 1920, Mr. Kennedy made plans for retirement and Mr. MacLeod conducted the general garage business and the Ford service.
The Ford Motor Company had inaugurated a system of service upon its new Model A car that required extensive additions in its service stations. Mr. Duffing had maintained his service at the MacLeod Baldwin garage but not being a practical garage man, realized his limitations in view of the additional requirements of adequate service on the new car. Angus MacLeod was prepared to make the necessary extensions and took over the agency with a view to giving the Ford patrons one of the finest service stations in minor Michigan cities. Prior to moving to Baldwin from Wolverine, MI he had eight years of experience with Ford work and it made him the logical man to continue the Ford Service contract. Angus MacLeod also entered a special course of training at the Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit for the Model A car.
In 1929 the change of name to MacLeod Auto Sales encompassed the added branch of Ford Motor sales as well as the existing service end of the business. As soon as the weather permitted, the old building was razed and a model garage was built to adequately house the various branches of service and provide suitable new sales rooms.
The new building was 120' x 60' and provided storage as well as mechanical space. Once completed, the new building was said to be “splendid enterprise as reflecting both growth of town and confidence in its future." There were salesrooms, restrooms, motor cooled drinking fountains, stockrooms for Model A and Model T parts, hydraulic hoist, overhead crane, heated storage for 20 cars, washing room, painting room, battery room, workroom and several additions of special machinery to supplement the shop. The new garage was patterned after Ford efficiency plans. The plans and specifications were prepared by the Allen and Son Company, the architects who designed and supervised the erection of the Lake County courthouse. General construction of the building was by the Ben H. Koenig Construction Company of Traverse City, the materials being supplied by the Baldwin Lumber Company. The heating apparatus was supplied by Andy Eagan, Grand Rapids and the plumbing by Harry Stephan of Reed City. Large cesspools, connected with the water drain were installed by Jack Bradford of Baldwin, using cement staves made by the Baldwin Cement Stave Silo Co.
The building was completely fire proof. Brick walls, cement floors, metal lath on partitions and steel window frames left little wood for a fire to feed. The terrazzo floored office, cooled by an electric exhaust fan was comfortably equipped with wicker settees and upholstered rockers. The upholstery fabric design was a pattern that was, for the time, very futuristic. A Model A blue-black sedan occupied the center of the saleroom, strategically placed so the eye could not escape it.
Gas pumps had a unique triangle arrangement on the concrete floor of the garage, so the service men would work inside the triangle, and the hose was long enough on each tank to reach a car in any location. This allowed the cars to be filled with any type of gas, water and air without having to move to each pump. Extra large storage tanks were placed leading to three visible-type oil pumps, carrying Ethyl, Solite and Red Crown gas. Employees were neatly garbed in coverall suits with the name of the garage across the back.
The location of the new MacLeod Auto sales building faced the turn where cars entered town around the courthouse square. This location gave an advantage of visibility to potential customers, and it also gave visitors to Baldwin a distinctly good impression of the town as they entered the Village limits.
Angus MacLeod, proprietor, was said to be "felicitated upon his splendid enterprise in putting in so fine a structure and equipment. It testifies to his faith in the future of the community, as his investment runs up into the thousands." However, the appearance of an up to date institution attracts business and the results justified the investment. He added to his force a number of skilled workers, and aimed to make the service as "snappy and prompt as it is excellent." Sam Giammalva, Milbert Lodholtz, and Sanger Brockelbank were taking care of general work while Mr. MacLeod and Glenn Avery were specialists on the "new" Model A Ford and oversaw general repairs. L. McDonald was an expert in the application of Ford Pyroxylin paint.
Angus MacLeod was a brother to Lerene MacLeod Trucks who was married to Ray Trucks. Angus's wife was Anstice Bradford MacLeod, daughter of John Abram Bradford and Edna Bradford. Anstice and Angus had four daughters, Nancy, Mary, Carroll and Emily. They also had nine grand children over the years. Their daughter Emily still resides in Baldwin with her husband Gordon Allison. One granddaughter, Jane Allison, resides in the house that Angus and Anstice built.