Kane County History: Cars Are Still Being Fixed at Batavia’s First Auto Repair Place
- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was written by Batavia Depot Museum Executive Director Jennifer Putzier.
If you stop by 108 S. Batavia Ave., you’ll find Abe and Doc’s Service Center, the 21st century keeper of a Batavia tradition.
That address has been the location of a nearly uninterrupted string of auto related business since 1907.
Early automobiles were rather delicate, road conditions were bad, and many drivers worse. So it wasn’t long after Ford’s mass production of automobiles before the services of a commercial auto repair and supply shop were needed.
In 1907, the first professional “Motor Repair” shop in Batavia was recorded at 54 S. Batavia Ave. (the address changed to 108 S. Batavia Ave. in 1947.) It is unknown who owned the auto repair shop in 1907, but by 1910, James Null is operating the garage.
This was a prime location to set up shop. It was a main thoroughfare through Batavia, and in 1913 it was designated as part of the Lincoln Highway.
According to the 1916 Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway, Foster’s was one of two garages in town. You could stay the night in Batavia for only $1.50, and remember: The speed limit is only 8 miles per hour, but not enforced.
The garage changed ownership, and in 1912, Roy Foster is listed as proprietor. Along with repair, he sold Oakland and Overland automobiles.
Enter The Guys
By 1917, Foster’s Garage is also selling Buicks, and has taken on a partner: Robert L. Guy. Between 1917 and 1919, the ownership of the garage transferred to Robert Guy, who then chose to serve in World War I. While he was overseas, his father, George Guy, stepped in and oversaw the business, operating it under the name Guy and Son.
The Guys had big plans for business growth. In 1920, they purchased the garage building and the building next door (old address of 56 S. Batavia Ave.). They tore this down to build a dedicated, modern filling station in the spot, keeping the garage next door.
Unfortunately, the Guys did not get to enjoy the expanded business for long. George died in 1928, before the filling station was completed. Robert a few short years later, in 1931, at the young age of 41.
At this point, the garage and the filling station are sold to separate owners, but they continued to run side by side for many years.
In an interesting reversal, the original garage building was torn town in 1952, when the station, then Larson’s Phillips Station, wanted to expand. This plan never came to fruition, though, and the filling station closed a few years later in 1955.
It is at this point the one and only non-car-related business opened on this spot; Bergeson-Milke Men’s Clothing Store. This venture was very short lived and became Carnation Motor Sales, which was in the building by 1958. In 1960, the old filling station was listed as vacant.
In 1962, the lot was purchased by John Lincoln and William Dreymiller, better known as Abe and Doc. Abe as a nickname for Lincoln is pretty obvious, and Dreymiller was called “Doc” thanks to his previous career as a barber. They had been running a Texaco station across the street, but they felt the rent was too high and they struck out on their own.
They demolished the old filling station and built a two-bay service station, a showroom for Good Year tires and had pumps out front dispensing Phillips 66 gas. They added and expanded over the years, improving the shop with a third bay and installing a canopy over the pumps — the first of its kind in Batavia!
In the 1970s, Abe and Doc removed the gas pumps to focus more on tires and repairs. As Abe and Doc retired, their sons, Mark Lincoln and Bill Dreymiller, took over.
Today, the business can still be found at 108 S. Batavia Ave., the current iteration a long line of automobile related businesses at this spot!
About the Batavia Depot Museum
The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place.
Open seasonally, from March to November, the Depot will reopen for the season March 4, 2019. Hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Read The Kane County History Series!
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