Bott's service station on the corner of Wolf and Dover Center
Honk, honk! Out of the way! In the early 1900s, the farmers in the Village of Bay were buying new cars and learning how to drive. Ernie Wuebker, who moved to Bay in 1898 at age 14, offers up a couple of funny stories in “Bay Village: A Way of Life” about two men on Bradley Road who were shown how to drive by the auto salesman. One man turned too hard into his driveway during his test drive with the salesman, and drove through his raspberry patch. That was his last time behind the wheel.
Ernie recalled another man's experience: “As they neared the culvert on Bradley Road, south of the Nickel Plate track, [the salesman] cautioned [the driver] to be careful not to hit the balustrade of the bridge, which wasn't too far from the road. But in his excitement, he turned the wheel the wrong direction and drove into the creek. The same man, after he did acquire the art of driving, was still not too safe a driver. In going to church a few weeks later, he got up to Detroit Road and bumped into a motorcycle. The cyclist was knocked off, but the machine was not damaged. The cyclist got back on the motorcycle this time behind the auto, and the man got back in his car. Before the motorcyclist could get out of the way, the man started the auto – he had it in reverse – and ran over the motorcycle.”
Once cars became the navigation of choice, the need for gas pumps and a service station became a reality in the suburbs. Some residents in the Village of Bay saw this as an opportunity. Around 1914, the Blaha family purchased land north of the grocery store they operated on Dover Center Road. In the early 1920s, the Blahas built a wooden service station there with a pump in front. Across the street, the Bott family, Don and Harvey, owned a Chrysler dealership with two gas pumps where Malley’s is today.
Harvey Bott, wanting a more convenient place for his gas pumps, searched for a good location to build a service station with room for gas pumps. He found Lou Sholl’s berry patch down the road on the west side of Dover Center, north of their dealership. New Wolf Road would travel right by the new service station on the corner of Wolf and Dover Center roads. Harvey built a small two-story brick building for this purpose.
The station became a Sinclair gas station, and had one of the first electric pumps with a clock-style dial that went up to 10 gallons. At the time, gas cost 20 cents a gallon. Harvey had a bedroom on the second floor. The brick building still stands today.
Two garage bays were added to the west side of the building in the 1940s. The station was full service. Harvey built an office building on the west end of his property facing Wolf Road and rented it to the Columbia Gas Company. Today, his building abuts the east end of the Bay Village Square shopping center, built in 1949.
The next owner was Ernie Olchon, a WWII veteran. He named the station Ernie Olchon’s Bay Service and owned the business through the early 1970s. Ernie was known by all in the village. Bay High School boys had jobs at the station, pumping gas for his many customers. When Ernie ran the station, the sign above the pumps read Pure Oil.
Next came Corman Landers, who owned the station for many years. At this time it was a Union 76 station. Rich Burns then bought the corner and eventually stopped pumping gas. The Burns family had the pumps removed. Rich’s son, Rick, now owns the station which is known as Burns Auto Service, where he works on automobiles and trucks.
Today the building has been in business for 81 years. Harvey Bott was right, it was a great place to have a business in a great neighborhood.
I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society. Member and Past President of the society. Lived in the village since 1936.