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We bought the place from Mabel Kingsley, the widow of Addison Kingsley in 2001. Addison (Add) had apparently bought the barn in 1938 and installed the apartment. He operated the Auto repair business as “Seven Oaks Garage” from that time until he retired about 1980. He then leased it to others who operated under various names, including River Road Automotive.
When Eric Bowser approached me about opening a repair shop, I then contacted Mrs. Kingsley and bought the barn property including the lot across Merry Lane. The property had been leased for many years to Allan Derschon, who also sold Christmas trees from the property. He had used the building at least partly for storage. It was full of misc. machinery and car parts. Derelicts were constantly breaking in to steal things and Mr. Derschon was no longer able to take care of it.
We decided to restore the barn, but first had to jack it back into a straight roof line. Even so, the corners are not plumb. The charm of the place was more important than a slight leaning….in my opinion. We tried to retain as much of the original as possible. The air compressor is housed in what was a privy. The pit had to be shoveled out annually, I suppose. The workbench and the apartment are original, and all the doors and windows, except the rollup doors.
Eric decided to call it ‘River Road Automotive” to take advantage of the internally lit sign that was already on the building. (By the way, I assume we still have it?) While I was working on the restoration several people stopped by to reminisce about the old barn and thank me for not tearing it down.
At one time I thought about using it for a produce market, but if I use it for anything but automotive, it reverts back to residential only. Automotive is good…..!
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