Can former Studebaker dealership be saved?

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An old car hobbyist from New Jersey is looking for help in saving a former Studebaker dealership building from the wrecking ball.



Mathis Motors Studebaker was built over 80 years ago in classic
Mission Revival style.

Peter Crisitello is attempting to form an organization to acquire and restore the building, which is an excellent example of a Mission Revival commercial structure that once housed the Mathis Motors Studebaker dealership in Atlantic County, N.J.

The building is currently for sale, but because of its location could be desirable for development and thus potential demolition.

In an e-mail appeal to Old Cars Weekly Crisitello describes the building:  "Surprisingly, this building still looks just about the same as it did when built in 1926/27. An article from the August 2006 Turning Wheels Almanac column, confirmed that this is the former Mathis Motors dealership in Egg Harbor Township. The Terra Cotta Studebaker Wheel emblems came from the South Amboy Terra Cotta Works and are all in excellent shape. The points on each of the towers are also terra cotta. The green trim along the roof edge is all copper.  The Almanac editor Richard Quinn indicated the building was built from 1926 to 1927, at a cost of $90,000.

He goes on to note: "To answer some other questions, the showroom (front half of the building) was originally opened to the roof like a church with a balcony to the back. To the far right side of that balcony was/is what is left of the manager’s office. The current owner added a full second floor over the showroom, using reclaimed wood from the Atlantic City Board Walk located about 3 miles east of its location. This addition is strong enough to drive a car on if I had some way to get it up that high!  Between each of the big open display windows are columns topped with plaster castings of different sailing ships.

"This Showroom portion of the building is about 42′ wide by 60′ long. The Service area is just about the same, making the building about 120′ long by 42′ wide. The current owner replaced the Service area roof about 15 years ago. The peaked wood roof supports and bracing is all metal on top of brick piers. Most of the windows in the service area have been replaced with modern double hung with insulated glass ones. While the big picture windows are still glass the upper half circles are plastic."

Forming a nonprofit organization to save a building is unchartered territory for Crisitello. "Am I tilting at windmills or just off my rocker!?" he asks. "If I can succeed in forming a not-for-profit "Friends of" or another type of foundation, would anyone be willing to put some money into this project?"

"I believe this 82 year old building deserves a chance to make it beyond 100. I would like to give it that chance," he adds.

If you have any suggestions or interest in helping, contact Crisitello at Crisitel@RCI.Rutgers.edu.


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