A local family recently purchased the long-closed G&E Tire Co. building — famous for its original DeSoto neon sign — along Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri.
According to the Joplin Globe, Caleb and Annie Patrick bought the building that sits at McGregor and Oak streets, the latter which is Route 66. Caleb found some interesting history via courthouse records and sifting through the building’s contents:
They learned that it was built in 1935, and a large addition followed in 1941. Patrick said several business, all related to automobiles and trucks, have occupied the building during its history. He keeps finding old receipts, paperwork and other material from the building’s previous occupants.
He’s found hundreds of receipts from Joy’s Garage and paperwork for the delivery of cars to John Graue Motor Co., both of which operated in the building at one time.
“There’s a gentleman by the name of Joy Ortloff, he had Joy’s Garage. It may have started as a filling station,” Patrick said. “I’ve found some pretty cool stuff cleaning out the building from Joy’s Garage, things like that. I don’t know exactly when these things happened. I think he had Joy Motor Co. in there too.”
The previous owner’s grandfather, Gene Arehart, bought it in 1962. It continued as a tire shop until 2006.
As for the DeSoto sign, John Randall Graue and John Reese Graue operated Graue Motor Co. out of the building in the 1950s, selling them and Plymouths. DeSotos were discontinued in 1960.
Jack Arehart insisted on selling the sign with the building to the Patricks as a package deal. Caleb Patrick said the sign would stay, as would other artifacts found in the building.
The Patricks remain unsure what to do with the property until they finish more important tasks. They wrote on their blog:
Besides the initial clean up our main concern is installing a new roof and getting the building in the dry. Our plan is to install red iron and add one large roof over the entire structure. We will then begin working on new windows, doors, and repairing anything that is keeping the inside of the building from being weatherproof. We decided to go with red iron because we don’t want to add any more weight to the existing structure and we like the flexibility we will have in adding space above.
Once these items are taken care of we will start planning and sharing the next steps as we finalize any ideas we have. (We know, we know…this isn’t the answer you were hoping for.)
P.S. We will share more about the sign another time BUT it is not for sale and it will stay with the building. We hope to restore the neon later down the road. We think it adds to the charm of the building and wouldn’t dream of separating the two.
If you want to help or donate to the Patricks’ project, go here.
(Excerpted Google Street View image of the G&E Tire Co. building and DeSoto sign in Carthage, Missouri)