What’s old is new again, as Danville car dealer Stuart Powell plans to renovate the building in Lancaster where he operated a Ford dealership from 1960 to 1978.
The Richmond Street property will be a satellite operation of Stuart Powell Ford Lincoln Mazda in Danville. Powell, 88, said Monday that used vehicles will be on display and for sale at the Lancaster site.
“But it’s primarily for our good customers that are loyal to us who ... come over here (to Danville) for service,” he said. “We have an awful lot of good customers in Garrard County, and some of them are getting a little older. And to drive over to Danville for service, it’s a little bit of a burden.
“So I thought, ‘Well, let’s buy the thing and maybe try to boost the community,’” Powell said. “These small towns are sort of dying off, and I thought it might help a little bit. It’s benevolent type of thing, trying to help the community, because the community was awful good to me.”
The Lancaster building has been occupied by a furniture and carpet store, and most recently, it was occupied by the Garrard County Humane Society. It has 7,700 square feet and was built in 1948 according to Ford’s blueprints for dealerships at the time.
“It has the same facade of the prototype that was Ford’s design in 1948,” Powell said.
Powell got his start in the car business at his father’s Chevrolet dealership in Perryville in Boyle County. Later, in 1953, he went to Lancaster to manage the Chevrolet dealership owned by Mattingly-Rapier of Danville. (A Dollar General store now occupies that site.)
In 1960, Powell bought the Lancaster Ford dealership from two businessmen and rented the Richmond Street building from Judge Henry Cox. At that time, aside from the Chevrolet dealership, Lancaster had Oldsmobile and Dodge dealerships, Powell said. All are long gone.
In the early 1970s, Powell started a Ford dealership on Danville’s Main Street. In 1982, the Danville dealership moved to the U.S. Route 127 bypass. Powell’s daughter, Patti, is vice president and general manager of the Danville dealership.
It’s unusual for a car dealership to go back into a small town, especially one as small as Lancaster, which has a population of 3,800.
“The world turns in one direction and I go the other way,” Powell said. “Sometimes I’m 180 degrees from common sense, but the Lord’s provided, and I still survived and I’m still here.”