Ridgeway’s Auto & Open View Garage History
Family built, owned and operated…since 1949. The business was founded by Carroll Eugene (Gene) Ridgeway. The property was purchased in 1949 from the Keister farm on route 287 (Berlin Pike) in Lovettsville, Virginia. Gene built the building himself with help from family – his dad (Roy) and brothers (Petie and Lee).
The foundation was built by hand with a pick and shovel. They laid block and poured the concrete floor by hand. They gathered sand out of local creek beds to mix with the concrete, which was purchased from the railroad. Broken bags of concrete were purchased for $1 bag. As the sand was gathered out the creek beds, occasionally there would be black walnuts in the sand, which was mixed in with the concrete. Those walnuts are in the garage floor still today.
Gene’s father, Roy, named the business Open View garage because he said there was a good open view. Open View Garage was a car lot and full-service gas station. New Pontiacs and Sinclair gas were sold. Gene purchased the new cars from Lindquist Pontiac in Hamilton, Virginia, and sold them to local customers. He later switched to Esso gas. Later the gas pumps were removed and the name, Ridgeway’s Used Cars, was commonly used.
Around 1950, Gene began purchasing used cars because there was a greater demand for them in the tri-state. Most of the used cars were (and are today) purchased from reputable auto auctions in Pennsylvania. At one time, Gene had a few dump trucks and would haul convicts for the State Highway Department. Gene had drivers and would sometimes drive the trucks himself. He would also haul rock and gravel for the State. Gene and his family lived in the apartment attached to the garage. In 1955, they built a house down the road on Berlin Pike and Gene moved his wife and daughter, Peggy, there. Shortly after they moved, Gene and his wife, Georgia, welcomed their first son, Gary, into the world. Gene had an auto repair shop with about 4 mechanics.
After about 25 years, he expanded the garage and built a separate office for the car sales. He had to purchase an additional 25 feet of land so the building could be far enough off the property line. The Coats’ from the Lovettsville area built the backpart of the garage. At the time, the roof was flat until renovations were made in mid 1990’s. Gene’s grandson, Brett (Terry’s son), has run the auto repair business since 2001 as Ridgeway’s Auto Repair. He employs 2 full-time mechanics as well as his brother, Darren, part-time.
As the business grew, Gene hired two salesmen. Tom Pearson sold cars for about 15 years at Ridgeway’s Used Cars, and Larry Potts sold cars for about 2 years. Gene had one secretary, Patsy Danner, for about 25 years. In 1983, Gene’s daughter, Peggy, started working as the secretary following Patsy’s death. Peggy continues to serve as secretary.,Gene’s sons, Terry and Mark, began cleaning up cars (detailing) when they were around 10 years old.,Mark later became a mechanic and started working at the garage. Terry pursued a career in information,technology. In 1992, Mark started selling cars along with Gene and continues to run the car sale part of the business (Ridgeway’s Used Cars) today with his son, Brandon.
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