Historical Notes: Saloons and Car Dealerships

The block between Huachuca St and San Pedro Street has changed considerably since the turn of the 19th century to the 20th century. Many of the original buildings burned during this period and those that remained supported various changing businesses.


Present day building as it was rebuilt after the Silver Spur Club fire.

One such building is the present-day Be-you-tiful Hair Salon. Before it burned in the 1990s this building was a two-story building that housed the Silver Spur Club.



Silver Spur Club — formerly 1918 Ford Dealership

Originally the Silver Spur structure and the two buildings, one on either side was a Ford Dealership in the 1918 . In the early days of the Silver Spur Club the upper floor was a doctor’s office.

In 1950 Everett Lewis purchased the Silver Spur and converted the upper floor into living quarters in the true spirit of a “mom and pop” business.


1918 Ford Dealership (Misenhimer painting by M. Jennings)

Everett Lewis’ former occupation was that as a brick mason. In the 1970s, due to poor health Everett sold the Silver Spur Club to Eddie Strubie who ran the business until he sold it to two brothers. This spelled the demise of the business as well as the building when in the late 1970s the brothers committed arson and burned the building down to the walls.

The building was rebuilt but only as a present day one story structure. This was also the beginning of the end of most of the Saloons in Benson. I-10 took the El Rancho Bar which was out on highway 86 east of Benson. Page’s Palace opens on occasion but is closed most of the time. Since restaurants, Safeway, Walmart, and Circle Ks all sell liquor only the Arena Bar, VFW, Eagles and Riverside Inn exist now.

The Ford dealership which was replaced by the Silver Spur and the Studebaker dealership were the beginning of many new car dealerships in Benson of which none exist today.


S. B. Moss Studebaker Dealership located on 4th Street in the 1920s

Near the site of the Circle K on the corner of 4th and Huachuca street was the original Studebaker dealership until it sold to the Lewis Brothers and it became the Lewis Brothers Garage in the 1940s.


Benson Motor

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Once Benson Auto, once C&H Metal Works. Present day it is Sarge’s Sidearms.

On the southeast corner of 4th and San Pedro was a Hudson dealership which in the 1950s became Benson Chevrolet dealership until the 1960s at which time the Chevrolet dealership was relocated to a new facility south of Benson on Highway 80.

This was the dominate dealership in Benson until the middle 1950s when Dale Lopshire added onto the B. F. Goodrich store which was located next door to the Riverside Inn and established the second Ford dealership to serve Benson. The B.F Goodrich became the parts department for the new Ford dealership.


This is the B. F. Goodrich that was located next to the San Pedro Court Motel on the SE corner of Patagonia and 4th. It relocated to a larger building in East Benson which became the right half of the current Napa Auto which previously was Lopshire’s Ford then Cholla Ford and last Lawley Ford.

 

In 1956 a Plymouth dealership was established across the street from Lopshire’s Ford between the Dixie gas station and next to Bill’s Trading Post (later the 86 Café) but the competition drove it out of business after only one year. Lopshire’s Ford was sold by Dale and became Cholla Ford. Cholla Ford eventually sold out to Lawley which after a struggle eventually closed its doors.

This is the right half of the current Napa Auto which was originally Lopshire’s Ford then Cholla Ford and last Lawley Ford.

 

The right half of the building was a B.F. Goodrich store which Dick Lopshire had relocated from a smaller building on 4th and Patagonia. The left half was added as a showroom and maintenance vehicle service and maintenance area.

As I said Benson Chevrolet dealership, last owned by Frank Bivens, moved to out on highway 80 south of Benson in the 1960s and it became Mundy Chevrolet which was eventually taken over by Dale Lopshire for a short time who then sold it to Fred Mundy. When sales dropped significantly Fred Mundy, who had added Chrysler and Jeep to the distributorship, sold out to Beaudry Motors of Tucson which eventually went bankrupt thus the end of new car dealerships in Benson. The competition of the large dealerships in both Tucson and Sierra Vista proved to be too strong which spelled the demise of new car dealerships in Benson. Now the only car dealership in Benson is Barney’s used car dealership.

Photos provided by Stan Benjamin, Southern Arizona Historian