- Written by webmin
Of course, with every new photo archive I come across, that means it’s time to see what vintage dealership photos I can dig up, and the University of Vermont’s Landscape Change Program, which brought us the extra-cool photos of Bennington we saw last week, doesn’t disappoint, with four photos taken in about 1955 showing off the new front display area of Miller Pontiac-Chevrolet-Cadillac.
The location given is Hartford, Vermont, but that’s not entirely accurate. Nor is it entirely accurate to call Miller Pontiac-Chevrolet-Cadillac a lost dealership. As it turns out, Miller Automobile Company started in the 1880s in Hartford when Henry Miller founded the Excelsior Carriage Company, a showroom for horse-drawn carriages. He moved the showroom to nearby White River Junction in 1895, presumably to 75 Gates Street, where the mid-1950s photos were taken. In 1904, Miller’s son, Garfield “Dusty” Miller, bought (without his father’s permission) the first lot of automobiles that the company would sell: a carload of Jaxon steam cars. Jackson only built the Jaxon steam car for one year, 1903, before turning to the production of gasoline-powered cars, so these Jaxons were likely offloaded to Miller at a pretty good discount.
And because the supply of Jaxons was limited, the Millers found another car to sell, the Cadillac, and signed their first contract with Cadillac in 1906. According to the Hartford Historical Society, Dusty Miller often liked to tell the story of how he nearly sold a Cadillac V-16 to Calvin Coolidge, who had expressed interest in buying a car from Miller in the weeks before he died.
We found a brief description of the dealership in a 1910 issue of The Horseless Age, noting that the building, at 36×100 feet, was built expressly as a garage and was located about one or two blocks west of the railroad station. The location appears about right, but the one-story building shown in the article looks entirely different. The article goes on to note that Miller had a storage garage in Woodstock, Vermont, and that the dealership sold both Cadillacs and Pierce-Arrows.
From Dusty Miller, the dealership was passed on to Bill Miller, and from Bill on to his stepson, Cam Eldred. Sometime before 2008, the dealership moved to Ballardvale Drive, just off the intersection of I-89 and I-91, still in White River Junction, and then subsequently, Miller Automobile moved to its current location on Labombard Road in Lebanon, New Hampshire, just on the other side of the river. The dealership still sells Cadillacs and Chevrolets. In 2008, the Gates Street location was sold to the Northern Stage Theater Company, which appears to inhabit the location in the Google Streetview photos.