History & Tourism

When Mansfield Welcomed: Its Very First Automobile Show

24 Jul , 2019  

Cars have been on our minds here at 1812Blockhouse, with two feature stories already this week considering automobiles and traffic. In keeping with the theme, we’re re-posting a story we ran two years ago on the one hundredth anniversary of a unique community event.

The role of the automobile in daily life was a relatively new one on February 24, 1917, the day that Mansfield’s very first automobile show opened its doors.

Just nine years after the Ford Motor Company launched its signature Model T, and just four years after the company’s integrated moving assembly line revolutionized manufacturing, the car owners in north central Ohio decided to hold a show at the brand-new building of the Cotter Transfer & Storage – then, as it still is 100 years later, at 40 West Third Street (see photo).

Cotter Building – Google Maps

An editorial piece in the Mansfield Shield marveled at the changes which those few years had seen. “It has brought the man from the country in quick touch with the city. Miles men nothing to him now that the automobile is here.”

The show ran through March 1. At the opening ceremony, visitors were greeted with a half hour band concert and “beautiful electrical displays both inside and outside of the building.” Mansfield Mayor Lowery was on hand to address those gathered. Admission was 25 cents.

On the following Sunday, reviews of the show were effusive for what was termed an “epoch making event in [the] history of Mansfield.” The opening night crowd was pegged at 2,500. Interior decorations featured Venetian-themed décor on the fourth floor, foliage with brilliant electric lights on the third, and a Hawaiian theme on the second, each surrounding rows of exhibitors and cars, and with accessories and motorcycles on the ground floor. Entertainment included “Rego, the famous harpist” and a Hawaiian orchestra.

In all, 30 models of automobiles were on display with, of course, a number of salesmen. The first car sold at the automobile show was a “Hudson Super Six,” purchased by G.M. Touby of rural Mansfield. The price was not disclosed, although a Chevrolet Baby Grand Touring Car was on offer for $800.

All in all, Mansfield had “autoitis,” according to coverage of the day. Above is a photo of a 1907 Hudson Super Six, the very first car sold in Mansfield at its first ever Auto Show.

Photo: Creative Commons License

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