By Liesl Greathouse -(May 15) Today as you drive down Main Street in Montrose, you will pass the Hartman Brothers building at 531 E. Main Street. You would not know it by looking at it, but the Hartman Brothers building has been an important part of the automobile industry in Montrose.
In 1893, the Hartman family moved from a farm near Saguache to a farm south of Montrose with their three sons Ed, Joe, and Sid. Joe and Sid Hartman began working on and building farm equipment and machinery. In 1904 the brothers formed Hartman Brothers, becoming one of the first to service automobiles in town. In 1908, Hartman Brothers also became the first Ford agency in Western Colorado.
Due to their expanding business, they constructed the Hartman Brothers building in 1912 at a cost of $20,000. It housed the Hartman Brothers automobile dealership and repair garage. In 1915, the company became the second dealer in Willard batteries in the country, eventually becoming the largest Willard battery dealer west of the Mississippi. They also became the first Goodyear Tire distributor in Montrose.
In 1915 they switched from selling Ford cars to become an agent for Dodge Brothers Motor Cars for Montrose, Delta, Ouray and San Miguel counties. They also sold Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Chalmers, Studebaker, and Graham vehicles.
By 1916 the building included a garage with a capacity of 60 cars. In 1928 an office, showroom, and drive-through filling station were added. The Hartmans were distributors for Sinclair Petroleum from 1922 until 1976.
Finally, in 1977, the building was remodeled, the service station closed, and the building refaced to what it looks like today.
Even though for decades the Hartmans operated one of the largest auto dealerships on the Western Slope, today it is Hartman Brothers Oxygen Medical Equipment, a medical store and oxygen supply outlet. Hartman descendants have continued to own the building, celebrating their business centennial in 2004.
Even though it has gone through numerous building alterations and business pursuits, the Hartman Brothers building continues to stand as a Montrose institution today and hopefully for years to come.
Research gathered from Take A Closer Look: A Walking Tour Guide of Montrose, by Cathleen M. Norman and Marilyn S. Cox, and Historic Buildings Survey, Montrose, Colorado 1999.