Nemasket Automobile Company, Middleborough
MA, stock certificate, early 1900s
The Nemasket Auto Company was established on April 3, 1911, with John W. Howes (1850-1926) as president, Howes’ son John G. Howes (1887-1971) as treasurer and manager, and William L. Whittier. The younger Howes and Whittier both had previously been employed by Carlton W. Maxim’s Middleboro Auto Exchange. The Exchange was a retailer, repairer and lessor of automobiles and was later affiliated with the Maxim Motor Company which at that time had yet entered the field of fire apparatus manufacturing and still engaged strictly in automotive sales and repairs. John W. Howes appears to have been involved in the Nemasket Automobile Company primarily as financier to the operation and probably had little day-to-day involvement with the conduct of the firm which came to include three of his other children. Whittier died shortly after the establishment of the firm and was succeeded by Harry W. Howes (1886-1970), Bernard Howes (1893-1979), and Miss Alice Howes (1890-1952) who also assumed the role of office manager in 1927.
Hudson "33" advertisement, Hudson Motor
Car Company, 1911
One of the first vehicles sold by the
Nemasket Automobile Company following
its opening in April, 1911, was a Hudson
Nemasket Automobile Company
Premises, plan by Mike Maddigan
To keep alert to the latest developments in the automotive field, John G. Howes frequently attended functions sponsored by the Hudson Motor Car Company. In March, 1912, he attended the Hudson booths at the Boston automobile show, and in July, 1912, traveled to Detroit to view Hudson’s 1913 models including the Hudson “37” which Howes termed “the best ever”. Additionally, Nemasket Company mechanics were rigorously trained in the intricacies of Hudson-built machines with Hazell F. Norton attending a three-week training school for Hudson mechanics in Detroit in early 1913.
Hudson Six-40 advertisement, Hudson
Motor Car Company, 1915
In the mid-1910s, the Nemasket
Automobile Company increasingly
featured Hudson six-cylinder models in
its advertising as Hudson began to shift
towards production of the higher power
Yale Motorcycle advertisement, mid 1910s
Hudson Brougham advertisement,
Hudson Motor Car Company, 1925
Then, as now, automobile advertising was a fixture of the local newspaper, and the Nemasket Auto Company’s ads were a frequent fixture in the Middleboro Gazette.
Hudson Coach advertisement, Hudson
Motor Car Company, 1925
The fire proof construction of the building was tested at least twice during Nemasket’s tenure there. On the evening of July 22, 1918, “while supplying gasoline from a sentry to a motorcycle, in which the headlights were burning, the gasoline caught fire and this spread rapidly over the machine and the sentry. It was extinguished by a Pyrene tank almost before the [fire] department arrived.” Another fire on the morning of November 23, 1928, ignited from sparks from the chimney, setting the roof temporarily on fire. It was “quickly subdued by chemicals.”
As elsewhere, automobile sales in Middleborough were competitive and the town had its own 1920s equivalent of the modern day “auto mile” in the form of Wareham Street. In addition to the Nemasket Auto Company, Wareham Street was also home to Charles R. Chase’s Riverside Garage (Ford), the Maxim Motor Company (Overland) and the Howes & Perkins Garage (Chevrolet). A short distance away, Bailey’s Garage at Rice and Sproat Streets held the Buick, Peerless and G. M. C. truck agencies; W. L. Aller’s Studebaker Service Station at Everett Square sold Studebakers; the Triangle Auto Company on Vine Street held the agency for Reo automobiles for Middleborough, Lakeville, Bridgewater and Halifax; and H. H. Dunham’s Garage at the Lakeville Upper Four Corners sold Chandler cars, Cleveland cars and Walker-Johnson trucks.
"Hudson's Great 8" advertisement,
Hudson Motor Car Company, 1930
By 1930, Hudson and Nemasket were
focused on advertising the company's
latest 8-cylinder models.
Additionally, the garage sought to promote its principal product through highly-advertised events and programs. One of these held on July 24, 1929, featured Irving D. Thompson of the Hudson Motor Car Company who presented a three-reel film at the garage followed by “a comprehensive lecture” on the chassis of the new Hudsons.
Company building, 15
photographed May 4,
2011 by Mike
Detail of garage ramp
built on the site of the
former Sparrow House.
The Nemasket Auto Company remained in operation through 1942 when John G. Howes retired from the business. At that time, the company’s showroom and shop building on Wareham Street was acquired by Maxim Motors which relocated its sales and repair operations there. The building still stands at what is now 15 Wareham Street near Clifford Street.