Interior of Jesse Doty's Ford garage on Spruce Street, 1923. Note the $725 price tag on the new 1923 Ford Model T Center Door sedan Henry Ford's first attempt at a luxury car.
Sign on front of counter reads: "Genuine Ford and Fordson Parts Sold Here." Fordson was the brand name of the company's tractors. Henry Ford & Son Inc. manufactured them as a separate company from 1917 until 1920 when the father-son affiliate merged into Ford Motor Co. which continued to manufacture Fordson-branded tractors until 1964.
About Jesse Doty (by Genene Doty Staats, his granddaughter, 2013):
Jesse W. Doty came to Newhall in 1914 and was initially employed as an auto mechanic at the first garage in the middle of town. (It was C.K. Graham's Newhall Motor Car Co. garage at what is now 24331 Main Street. In later years the building became the Newhall Refining Co. office, then Newhall Jewelers, then Planet Soccer — Ed.)
Jesse purchased another garage across and down the street, the White Star Garage, on June 14, 1916, from the estate of Arthur C. Atherton. There was also a restaurant on the same property, although it was closed. The bill of sale encompasses a "garage, restaurant, one automobile (Kissel Kar), one gas engine air compressor, garage tools, machinery, fixtures, equipment and automobile accessories."
The next year, Jesse joined the Army and left the White Star in the management of Fred Liebhart. Jesse was assigned to the 18th Aero Squadron in France, where he worked on plane engines, and later did the same in the 23rd Aero Squadron. He was discharged March 25, 1919. When he returned from World War I, the White Star was renamed Doty's Garage and Jesse became a Ford dealer. On June 25 of that year he married my grandmother, Marguerite "Margie" Dana. The couple settled into a "kit house" they built next door to the garage, from pre-sawn and -measured materials. They lived there for nearly 40 years from 1920 to 1959, raising two sons along the way.
Several photographs of Doty's Garage were shot in 1923. One shows my father, Gene Doty (b. Oct. 23, 1920) on his tricycle in front of the house. Although Los Angeles County Assessor records list a construction date of 1925 for the garage, both the garage and the house were already there for several years.
My grandparents added two bedrooms to the back of the house, one for themselves and one for their sons, who had built-in bunk beds. A little laundry area was added to the north side of the house near the garage. In 1935 when Spruce Street was widened, the house had to be moved back onto a new foundation, as did many of the structures on the street. At some point an aluminum-roofed carport was added in back.
As for the garage, prior to World War II the entrance door to the service area was moved to the right, toward the house, and a showroom area was created. (See this photo.) This is what my older brother, Dennis, remembers from childhood. (Assessor records also show a secondary construction date of 1945, which might indicate the completion of remodeling — Ed.)
Jesse sold the Ford agency — the business, not the property — to Clymore Motors around 1940 but remained on the job until he retired in about 1950.
I have fond memories of being at the house nearly every day after school. I played piano there and helped in the garden. Grandpa Jess put a wonderful swing in the big tree next to the fence that separated the garage and the house. I remember doing craft projects with him, and he even let my sister Denise and me style his hair. We took walks with him nearly every day; we'd go north for a block past the "Snooker Club" — which had a toy bird in the window that bobbed to drink from a glass of water — to the post office. Then he'd usually take us into the Newhall 5¢ & Dime on the southeast corner of San Fernando Road and Market Street (which later became El Trocadero Mexican Restaurant) to pick out a small toy or candy. Sometimes we'd walk all the way to Safeway (later Tresierras Market) and say hi to our mom, who worked there for more than 30 years.
I also remember crossing the street to walk south down the block. We'd stop at the Rexall drug store to say hi and sometimes get a cold drink. Farther down was a great toy store for a while, directly across from my grandparents' house. We'd walk to the corner of San Fernando Road and 6th Street where the Newhall Hospital and Dr. William Ross' dental office were located; then we'd cross the street again and quickly pass the sheriff's substation at the northeast corner of San Fernando and 6th because we little girls were scared of the bad guys who were probably in there. Then we were back at our grandparents' house.
The big remodeling of the San Fernando Road property was done by Loren Clymore around 1959 (just the front portion, not the corrugated-tin service garage in the back). The entire front part, including their house, was torn down and replaced by a new parts department, storage area, and a new showroom with floor-to-ceiling windows. The new showroom was built where the front yard of the house had been. My grandfather still owned the property but leased it to Clymore Motors. With the expansion, my grandparents moved to a house on Walnut Street where Jesse lived until his death in 1961.
In time, a man named Hugh Johnson took over the dealership, and it was Magic Ford when it moved to Creekside Road in Valencia in the 1970s.
Jesse was on the board of directors of the new San Fernando Valley Bank for several years following its 1922 opening. In 1928 he became a charter member of the Newhall-Saugus Kiwanis Club and remained active for decades. He was also a charter member of American Legion Post 507 and was instrumental in the building of the American Theater (which was both a cinema and the American Legion Hall).
Around 2001, my father, Gene, and Uncle Maury sold the 9,259-square-foot garage building at 24254 San Fernando Road (aka Main Street) to a car collector who keeps his collection in the old showroom next to the building that is now the Canyon Theatre Guild's theater space — which used to be Chitwood's Furniture and Howdy Cleaners. Chitwood's was in the main south portion and Howdy's (24242 San Fernando Road/Main Street) was on the north between Chitwood's and the Doty house. I often played at the cleaners with my friend Chris Houdeshell (daughter of Howdy Cleaners owner Clyde Houdeshell); after school, she would go to her parents' business and I'd go to my grandparents' house. (The Chitwood's & Howdy Cleaner's building became NAPA Auto Parts before it was redeveloped into the Canyon Theatre — Ed.)