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Historic Building Demolished
Photo captions by Bob Walter: The demolition of an Eatonville
landmark - the Van Cleve Motors building, took place Thursday, March
3, to make way for the new. The venerable, old structure epitomized the
face of Eatonville for nearly 80
years as a destination to get the best deal on a new Ford. Its longevity
was also a testament to Eatonville's core industry - logging and lumber.
The Rest of the Story...
by by Rich Williams
Eatonville saw a piece of their history demolished this week.
The old Van Cleve Motors building had been part of Eatonville’s landscape
for over eighty years. Like many other commercial enterprises in this
area Van Cleve Motors is now just a memory. If only this building could
have talked, what a story it would have told.
Once a Thriving Ford Dealership...
The Van Cleve Motors Building (seen here circa early 1970's) was truly a multi-purpose one: Over the years it was a new and used car dealership, as well as a filling station, an auto repair shop, the Mountain View Cafe and even apartments upstairs. Several tenants used the building in the years since the Van Cleve family owned it, including Herm Swanson, Bob and Lenore Callahan, and the last tenant, Eatonville's Youth Connection, which moved to a different location at the end of last year.
Customer Loyalty for Many Reasons...
While the Van Cleve men were closing the deal,
Madge, who reminded everyone of Aunty Bea, would be genuinely interested
in getting to know each customer. It wasn’t unusual for her to
remember your name and all your kids’ names, every time you visited the
dealership. This combination of genuine customer interest, low overhead
pricing and an exceptional knowledge of the product was the primary
reason for the customer loyalty they enjoyed.
Meeting Lee Iacocca at Ford Headquarters...
George "Pappy" and Madge Van Cleve take possession of a new Ford Mustang in 1965, the first year of production for the car. Van Cleve Motors was one of one hundred top Ford dealerships in the nation, all of which won a car. Handing the keys to "Pappy" is company CEO Lee Iacocca.
Family Says "Goodbye" to Old Building
In 1972 and 73, the Ford F-100 and F-150 pickups
were red hot. Sales were so brisk that Ford Motor Company production
could not keep up with demand. At one time during that period, Van Cleve
Motors had over 100 pickups on back order. Seeing two fully loaded
transports unloading vehicles on Washington Avenue each week was not
80 Years of History Reduced to Rubble in Two Days
What's left of a landmark is ready to be hauled away.
other Eatonville businesses could be found here in the days before Van
Cleve Motors arrived? Pat Van Eaton has a 1914 fire insurance company
map showing the types of businesses that existed on this stretch of Mashell
Avenue back then. The building with the green roof at the far left - now
the Tall Timber Cafe - was Charley Williams' Pioneer Garage.
More Photos Courtesy of Rich Williams
From left to right, sons Lad and Jim, and dad George "Pappy" Van Cleve pose in front of their business. This photo was taken in the late 1940's.
A motorist takes in Eatonville's main drag, while a multi-tasking Van Cleve gives his car a fill-up at the pumps, circa 1940's. (That's owner, George "Pappy" Van Cleve, who, by the looks of his coveralls, is obviously making good use of his time between customers.) The "Open" sign let drivers know they could buy gas at the dealership even during construction to expand it.
The dealership undergoes a cinderblock expansion in the 1940's, during the Van Cleve era. The old building grew and grew.
What took years to build was demolished in a two working days.
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