Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 6, 2013

Local resident looks to share love of cars and Bluefield

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — By

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 —  There’s a museum in the making in the West End of Bluefield that a Mercer County man believes might become a driving force in City Manager Jim Ferguson’s idea to develop several attractions in the city based on the community’s historic past.

Tim Taylor, a long-time employee with Frontier Communications, has had a lifelong love of antique cars and has been collecting some of them for the past 20 years. Taylor now believes that his collection could serve as a draw for an automobile museum in the city of Bluefield.

“I grew up in Green Valley, but I went to school at Central Junior High School and Bluefield High,” Taylor, 61, said. “I’ve always been a big fan of Bluefield. I’d like to see it grow again and I think people would come out to see a car museum. Antique cars has just been a lifelong hobby.”

Taylor called Bluefield City Manager Jim Ferguson last week after he read comments Ferguson made in a newspaper article about a Norfolk Southern Railway heritage locomotive that was passing through Bluefield and had attracted a crowd of rail enthusiasts who photographed it as it stopped for a brief time in Bluefield.

“I had mentioned that I would like to develop some small museums in Bluefield that might encourage people to spend some time in the city,” Ferguson said. “I mentioned a rail and Baldwin Felts Detective Agency museum and something at the No. 2 Fire Station on Bland Street in South Bluefield. I have known Tim for a while, and when he called about this, I had to come and see it.

“This is exactly the kind of thing that I was talking about,” Ferguson said as he walked through Taylor’s museum-in-the-making. “Something like this would bring people to town.”

Taylor’s automobile museum is already filled with some rare, classic vintage automobiles. He has one Model T Ford, a 1927, five Model A Fords, a very rare 1932 Model V Ford that features suicide doors and was manufactured in France, a 1948 Plymouth, a clean 1958 Edsel and a 1940 Ford Sedan Delux that participated in two of the History Channel’s Great Races from Marietta, Ga., to Anaheim, Calif.

“The singer, Mel Street, painted that late 1931 Model A Ford,” Taylor said. Every one of the vintage cars has a back story. “The 1948 Plymouth was owned by a doctor in Richlands, Va., who used it to make house calls,” Taylor said. “There were only 125 of those Model V Fords made in France in 1932. This one may be the only one in America.”

Even though the rolling stock is impressive, the facility that Taylor is in the process of transforming into his automotive museum has firm roots in Bluefield’s historic past as well. The Bluefield Avenue garage was most recently a body shop, but prior to that, it had been home to Friendly Honda, under the leadership of Dan Halsey who was the company president.

Before it was a Honda dealership, the site served as home to Skyline Motors, and was operated as an AMC Jeep dealership under the leadership of Robert L. “Dutch” Sexton who was then president. Before it became Skyline, the dealership was known as Bluefield Motors Inc., an authorized dealer for Studebaker, Mercedes-Benz and Jeep. Lennie J. Compton was president of Bluefield Motors, a business that opened in 1958.

The structure that held this fascinating array of dealerships also has an interesting back-story. Taylor said that the rafters in the roof came from the old airplane Quonset hut hangar that had served airplanes at the old Bluefield Municipal Airport that had been located at the site that is now the parking lot for Mitchell Stadium in the Bluefield city park complex.

Taylor’s dreams go beyond his incredible car collection. He has also collected 25 of the 50 models of Cub Cadet lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers and plans to restore all of them to form another aspect of his museum.

“I would like to see this whole West End develop with a lot of small shops,” Taylor said. “I think this museum will bring people into this part of town.” He said that he plans to retire in another year. “After I retire, I’ll be able to spend more time fixing up the garage,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com