ELKTON — In the year 1900, when people used horses, carriages, and even bicycles to get around town, the citizens of Elkton were surprised one day by the appearance of one of those newfangled contraptions called an automobile. As the story goes, the automobile drove through town at the same time a horse-drawn delivery wagon was paused at the corner of Main Street and North Street. The horse, named Poor Excuse, was so frightened by the machine that it took its owner B.M. Wells for the ride of his life, dashing through the streets of Elkton.
For the next 10 years, the automobile became more popular in the county. The first dealership in Cecil County opened in Rising Sun in 1909. Duycnick, Sterret, & Co. sold Hupmobiles, Invincible Schachts, and Oakland Machines. It took two more years for an auto dealer and garage to appear in Elkton.
In 1911, at the young age of 19, Warren W. Boulden constructed a small building on Main Street in the “Hollow.” It was next door to the Elkton Hotel, formerly known as Fells Hotel. The space he built on was part of the hotel. Originally, the property was a driveway on the west side of the hotel building that led to the hotel’s stables. The property sat at the foot of Beau Street, now called Bow Street.
In this building he opened a new garage and auto supplies store. The May 20, 1911, Cecil Whig described the garage as a “roomy brick structure, 20 feet in front and 60 feet in depth, with wide front and rear entrances and able to shelter seven or eight cars at once.” The article went on to say that the building was well-lit at night and was a marked improvement to the “Hollow.” The back door opened to a dock on the Elk River, where Mr. Boulden could receive drums of gas and oil that had been shipped by boat.
At first, Boulden repaired wagons and buggies, but eventually he began repairing and selling autos. The Whig reported that Boulden had “given this business a study and was a competent mechanician.” This new business, called the Elkton Garage, sold Dodge Brothers trucks, Locomobiles, Stanley Steamers, Stutz, Appersons, and Fords.
In 1913, the Ford Motor Company insisted that only Fords be sold at the Elkton Garage, so the garage became the “exclusive agent” for Fords. The Feb. 22, 1913, issue of the Whig reported that “Mr. Warren Boulden has received two carloads of Ford automobiles and invites you to call at his Elkton Garage and look them over.”
New Fords were delivered to Elkton by train. The chassis were delivered without the wheels, roofs, or bodies. These were brought to the garage and assembled by Boulden and his mechanic. When all the autos were assembled, Mr. Boulden would hire the Elkton Cornet Band and parade through town, showing off his new inventory. These mini parades always took place on Saturday morning, Market Day, when farmers and other citizens came to town. Usually, the new cars were sold out within a week or two.
As the Elkton Garage became more successful, Boulden decided to build a new garage. He had outgrown the Main Street location. In January 1916, the New Elkton Garage opened on North Street. The business eventually became known as Warren W. Boulden & Sons after Mr. Boulden married and had two sons who also became involved in the auto industry.
The old Elkton Garage on Main Street was eventually torn down, and a new building was built. Theodore’s Restaurant replaced the garage. In the early 1970s, the town of Elkton decided to widened Bow Street and extend it to Howard Street. The building was then torn down, along with a few others. Today, when a car drives from Howard Street to Main Street, it crosses over the site of the old Elkton Garage.