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Stop 8: The 1916 Ford Garage

Copyright © 2024

Who would have thought that the Ford Motor Company’s Model T showroom on Live Oak Avenue with its uneven floors, wobbly tables, and eclectic demeanor would have another life many decades after it was built by Ford Motor Company in 1916?  Remember that World War I was in full swing during the year the Ford garage and showroom were built although the US did not enter the war until 1917.


      Gazing at Kafe´Kokopelli and her two neighbors to the east, Rolando’s Cigar Lounge and American Pizza Oven, note that the front of the building on Meridian was the car show room and sales offices until the 1970s. The back of the garage hosted service bays and mechanics. Mack Clyde Autrey sold many early Ford vehicles of various models and advertised weekly in the newspapers. He and his family eventually established Ford dealerships throughout Florida. (Several photos of advertisements).


     When Ford opened a new location on the outskirts of town, the building hosted various businesses over time.


     In 1997 the space was converted by community member and stylish designer entrepreneur, Gail Greenfelder and her husband Glen Greenfelder, a lawyer in Dade City, into a 150-seat restaurant with two banquet rooms, the Cypress Room and the Citrus Room. Creatively entitled Kafe Kokopelli, a moniker derived from the southwest Native American Indian God, it has a huge following some twenty-five years later. Kokopelli was the flute player and God of Fertility, believed to provide seeds for planting in the Spring in order to foster a plentiful harvest. Two other spaces were carved out of the old garage that house the lovely spaces occupied by Rolando’s Cigar Lounge and American Pizza Oven Dade City which also have great histories!


     In the early years of the automobile, rivalry was ongoing in Dade City as Highland Motors, Clark’s Dodge, Hutton Motors, Pasco Motors, Casey Motors, Dade City Nash, L.S. Ferguson’s Jewett vehicle, Brooker’s Star Six Vehicle, William’s Dodge Motors, and Dial’s Hudson shop opened shops, to name a few.  A new culture was born and citizens had enormous interest. Many of the shops also sold replacement engines, various brands of tires and did mechanical work.  The newspapers had competitive advertisements with deals posted in the local newspapers. Ford was known as Dade City Motors and Chevrolet was Pasco Motors and their efforts were increasingly rivalrous as the population was growing accustomed to automobiles as a replacement for horse and wagon.

  • 1914

    M.C. Autry of Georgia rented the building on the corner of Pasco and Cherry Streets which was converted into an auto display shop (Tribune, May 4, 1914).

  • 1915

    Indicative of the motor craze, Charley Harmeling and H.J. White opened a garage called, “Everybody’s Garage” at the site of the Harmeling Livery Stable in Dade City.

  • 1916

    Ford Company’s Model T Showroom on Live Oak in Dade City was constructed.

  • 1921

    Ms. Lucile Stapleton and M.C. Autry were married in Orlando and arrived back in Dade City, guests of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Lock (Tribune, December 19, 1921).

  • 1924

    Mack Clyde Autry passed away in Kissimmee in March (At the time of his death, Mack Clyde Autry also owned the Ford Agency in Dade City, Brooksville, Kissimmee and co-owned the Ford Dealership known as Pinellas Motor Company in in Tarpon Springs).

  • 1997

    Gail and Glen Greenfelder converted the Ford Garage into a 150-seat restaurant with two banquet rooms.

  • 2023

    Rolando’s Cigar Lounge on the east end of the old Ford Garage changed proprietors and was named The Vibe Cigar Bar with a new night club atmosphere and Tony Gonzalez as manager.