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East End Garage comes down

Richard Fulton

(9/16) If you blink, you missed it. On Saturday, November 7th, with the help of a gentle nudge of a construction backhoe, the shell of the East End Garage came down. By Sunday morning, the 100-year-old structure had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Preliminary demolition of the building began after the land was sold for a proposed Dollar General Store, which is slated for construction in early 2015. Before the building could actually be torn down, and its debris shipped to the county landfill, the building had to be gutted of all hazardous material and recyclable material such as copper wiring and metal.

The gutting of the building took over a month, according to owner Frank Hobbs. Throughout the gutting, Hobbs, a history buff, was on the lookout for long lost items of historical significance. "We found old bottles from both the Mathews Bottling and Emmitsburg Bottling companies that date back to the 1930s in the walls, but nothing else."

East End Garage was the last of the original garages that sprang up in Emmitsburg in the early 1910s to serve the mechanical needs of owners of early automobiles. It counted as its peers Wagerman’s Garage at the end of West Main Street and the Emmitsburg Motors Car Company on Frederick St. (South Seton Ave.)

In the 1920’s and 30’s, the garage served as the local Chevrolet dealership. In 1949, it was acquired by Wilber Umbel who turned it into a full time garage. In 1958, Umbel sold the Garage to Francis Hobbs. Over the next 33 years, Hobbs built the business into one of the larger independent car repair shops in the area. In 1991, Frank Hobbs bought the business from his father and continued to run it as garage.

The rapidly changing repair needs of today’s computer based automobiles soon outpaced the ability of the East End Garage mechanics to compete with modern repair centers. In 2010, the decision was made to close the business.

While for weeks many had anticipated the actual date the building would come down, the speed of its collapse surprised many. All day Sunday, old time Emmitsburgians gathered to watch as the rubble was sorted and piled. Stories were shared about time spent in the garage waiting room, the mechanics that worked in the garage, and long forgotten historical anecdotes about the building and its many owners.

In addition to the East End Garage, the old Gelwick’s "Flying A" gas station will also be torn down to make room for the planned Dollar General parking lot. Gelwick’s gas station is the last of the original gas stations in Emmitsburg. The property also once housed the old Emmitsburg Ice Plant, which was torn down in the 50’s. Construction on the Dollar General should begin in early 2015, weather permitting. It is anticipated that the store will open by the summer of 2015.

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