Bay’s Abuzz About Burns

Longtime Auto Center Now for Sale. $399,995 Takes It

DSC_0205-1Hottest topic on the popular facebook site ‘Secret Bay Village’ this week is the Craigslist listing for Burns Auto on the corner of Dover Center and Wolf Roads.

The Craigslist ad has the place offered for $399,995, eliciting numerous comments from readers who have ideas for the spot.

“This would make a really cute restaurant. Would take a lot of work, but it would be super cool to keep the garage doors for summer air,” says one reader.

“Bring back a retail bike shop to Bay and include the Bike Co-op, too,” suggests another.

The service station has been standing at this corner since 1935! Some call it historic, based on age alone.

Here’s a look back at Burns Auto from The Villager archives, a column penned by the late, great Bay historian George Serb:



One of Bay’s Memorable Landmarks

by George Serb

GEORGE SERB PIC img090-1_RGBOne of Bay’s memorable landmarks is the Cape Cod-style brick building at the corner of Wolf and Dover Center Roads. Harvey Bott purchased this corner track in the late ‘20s from Louis Scholl, who had a berry patch extending to where Heinen’s stands and back to the farm house and barn overlooking Cahoon Valley. Wolf Road was paved and the bridge constructed in 1929.

Mr. Bott built a small, two-story gasoline station on the site, selling Sinclair gasoline and petroleum products. He was a widower and lived above the station. Harvey had the first electric gasoline pumps with a clock-faced dial which rotated from one to ten gallons. Most people bought five gallons of regular for about $1. High test cost a few cents more. A price list for the purchase consisted of a printed price card attached to the pump. Computer pumps came in the late ‘30s.

There were no inside service facilities – the lift was out in the open at the west side of the building. Additions were made. The first one, an enclosed service bay followed by another. This gas station was the first full service facility in Bay. Blaha’s Grocery had only a glass top hand pump out front. Mr. Bott built a small office building on the lot for Columbia Gas, who needed more space than what they had in Kutchin’s Drug Store across the tracks. Bay Village Printing now occupies the building. It is not part of the shopping center.

The late “Ernie” Olchon owned the station until his retirement. Ernie worked at the station before WWII when he went into the service. Upon returning he again worked at the station and took over ownership. The gasoline brand changed to Hi-Speed, then Union 76 until discontinued a couple of years ago. One cannot compete with the full service multiple pump facilities in the area.

After Ernie retired, the late Corman Landers took over the operation for several years. Union 76 then installed company personnel and the Burns family took over in 1986. Rich Burns retired and sold out to his son, Rick, who is now sole owner. The family has been in the service station repair business since 1936 in the Cleveland area.


About George Serb

George Serb was a life-long Bay Village resident and local historian who died in 2006. He lived with his wife, Anne, on Lake Road a little west of Columbia. George was a regular contributor to The Villager. As he used to joyfully say when he met you, “Shake the hand of a man who shook the hand of a man who shook hands with Abe Lincoln!”


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