MATTOON – The local history room at the Mattoon Public Library recently added a compilation of local new car auto dealerships dating back to 1917.
History room volunteer Chris Suerdieck compiled the material through his research going through city directories, newspaper archives and related material available in the history room.
“I regularly get questions about where a particular business was located and what time period it operated,” Suerdieck said. “That led me to research the auto dealers. As I got into it, the process became like peeling back onion, there was typically another layer often connected in some way to previous layers.”
The list of models and owners is framed on a wall outside the history room, located on the basement level of the library. Several items may be surprising, such as Mattoon having a Mercedes dealer at one point in the 1950s. Many of the auto nameplates were retired many years ago and are unfamiliar to today’s world.
The history room typically is publicly available from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Access to the room is by taking the elevator to the basement level.
“Some people have specific questions they want help in answering,” Suerdieck said. “Others enjoy browsing through material that includes items on individuals, organizations, schools, businesses, cemeteries, families and a variety of related items, including plat books and a variety of maps.”