Charles D. Willard built Cottonwood Garage on the east side of his property during the summer of 1915. The building was rented or leased to various mechanics and businessmen. Phillip Van Devanter Neff was the first well-known professional mechanic and promoter of the Cottonwood Garage. He and P. E. Green had secured the agency for the popular Maxwell car by September of 1916. Mr. Neff "has been doing such good business that he will enlarge his garage and put in a cement floor." (Jerome News; September 1, 1916; and May 11, 1917.)
Later, "the Cottonwood Garage is building a commodious addition to the present quarters on Main Street to make room for a rapidly increasing business." (Verde Copper News; September 22, 1917.) "An addition has been added to the north side of the Cottonwood Garage, consisting of 2 rooms which will be used for storage of supplies and repair work." The list of men called for the draft on August 15, 1917, included Phillip V. D. Neff. He was soon certified for service in World War I. (Jerome News; September 27; and Verde Copper News; September 28, 1917.)
"The Cottonwood Garage, formerly owned by P. V. D. Neff, has changed hands, having been purchased by C. H. Shannon and Paul Wilkerson, recently from Bisbee, who have taken possession and are now in full charge." These men have been engaged in the garage game since 1908. (Verde Copper News; January 15, 1918.)
Across the street from the Cottonwood Garage, the International Garage had been in business since 1917. A short distance to the north, W. Ersel Garrison and his brother-in-law began working on cars in a shed during 1919, and soon their Liberty Garage was thriving. Charles Willard understood that a successful garage building needed more space. His 1915 building was constructed on land he subdivided as Willard Addition in 1917, on Lot 12 of Block 2, and he had sold the neighboring lots. In order to expand, Mr. Willard purchased Lot 11 from Norma J. Harlan, a single woman living in Los Angeles, for $350 on February 8, 1919, however, the Warranty Deed was not recorded until April 27, 1922. (Book 122 of Deeds, page 593.) The 1915 Cottonwood Garage was dismantled before construction began on the new poured cement garage building which covered Lot 12 and almost all of Lot 11, now 1028 North Main Street.
"EXCELLENT PROGRESS: The workmen on the Willard building have been making excellent progress and they have the walls up to a height of 10 feet. It is expected to have the structure nearly ready for the roof in the next week. The building covers more ground space than any other building in the town, and when completed will rank among the finest garages in the state." (Verde Copper News; Tuesday, November 22, 1922.)
"NEARING COMPLETION: The new garage building being erected by C. D. Willard is rapidly nearing completion. The workmen are now finishing the interior. It is figured the Durant people, who are to occupy it, will be able to move in by February 1." (Verde Copper News; January 12, 1923.)
"DURANT MAN: E. G. Weaver, the high-up man in Durant cars, has been in Cottonwood for the last few days on business and to look into the progress being made on his new garage being completed by C. D. Willard. He was accompanied by L. C. Hinesman. The two men are very well satisfied with the outlook in general for the town and surrounding country." (Verde Copper News; January 23, 1923.)
"POURING CEMENT: The final pouring of cement on the new home of the Durant cars in Cottonwood began day before yesterday and for several days the exhaust of the concrete mixer will emphasize the finishing touches to the largest building in Cottonwood. The Durant people plan to be installed in the building about the 15th of the month. James O. Braley will equip the machine shop in the back and has already made arrangements for the major portion of his equipment." (Verde Copper News; Friday, February 2, 1923.)
"CEMENT SIDEWALK: C. D. Willard has finished the laying of the cement floor to the garage for the Durant people and now has a gang of men at work on the front sidewalk. The pouring of concrete will be done in a day or two and the machinery will be moved in about the 22nd of the month." ... "The new Durant garage being erected by C. D. Willard is rapidly being made ready for occupation and Machinist Braley hopes to begin installing his machines in the back end by the 25th of the month, immediately after the Firemen's Ball. A little final woodwork will be finished as moving in takes place. The building is the largest and one of the finest in the valley, and with its new cement walk in front is a credit to the town and valley." (Verde Copper News; Friday, February 9; and Tuesday, February 13, 1923.)
"FIREMAN'S BALL" The Cottonwood Fire Department will give its annual ball in the new garage of the Durant Agency in Cottonwood on the night of Saturday, February 24, at 9 o'clock. The affair will be a novelty in that it will be a comic masquerade and prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third best men's costumes, and the first, second, and third best ladies' costumes. No fancy, artistic, or expensive costumes will be considered in the awarding of prizes and judges will base their conclusions solely on what they consider the best comic get-ups. It is thought the affair will bring out the record crowd of the year, as it is the first costume affair of any kind held for some time. The idea of a burlesque masquerade eliminates expense that is attached to the usual masquerade and all who come in costume may compete for the prizes at very little expense. Tickets will be on sale at various places in the district in the next few days for the coming event. The admission will be $1.50 straight and the dancers will have the very time of their lives. Masks may be had at John MacIntyre's, Cottonwood." (Verde Copper News; Tuesday, February 13, 1923.)
"Scores are devising extraordinary costumes for the occasion and J. Bonner, of Cottonwood, had had arrangements made whereby he can accommodate many who want costumes made in short order. He occupies the tailor shop on the east side of Main Street near the tinshop [at the corner of Main and Pinal]. (Verde Copper News; February 20, 1923.) Observing a Cottonwood tradition existing since the 1890's, residents were invited to a dance in the newly completed building.
"BRALEY WILL OCCUPY WILLARD GARAGE AT COTTONWOOD: One of the most important changes that has taken place in Verde district automobile circles for many months was made last Saturday [September 15,] when J. O. Braley & Co., Oldsmobile agents, took over the Willard building occupied by a branch of E. G. Weaver, Yavapai County distributor of Durant and Star cars. Hereafter Weaver will devote all his time to selling Durants and Stars in the Prescott territory and will maintain no branch on this side of the mountain. Braley has already moved in his stock of Oldsmobile cars and within a day or two will have an extensive stock of tires and accessories. He will also do general repair work on all makes of cars, as well as 'service' Oldsmobiles. Braley is one of the best known mechanics in this part of the country and the fact that all repair work will be done under his personal supervision is sufficient guarantee of its excellence. The Willard building was especially built for a garage and automobile show room. It is well arranged and equipped for those purposes and its location on the main street of Cottonwood, is ideal. Braley & Co. will undoubtedly do a large business there." (Verde Copper News; Tuesday, September 18, 1923.)
1925: WILLARD COTTONWOOD GARAGE REMODELED [Many of the other businesses on the west side of Main Street burned on April 20, 1925.]
"LOOKS BROKEN: Yesterday a force of men worked on the front of the J. O. Braley Company's building, tore out the big window on the north side and broke a great hole in the concrete with a view of putting in a much larger glass window than was in at first. The other side will also be dug out and new glass put in the place of that now in. It means the display windows are being lowered and widened by the addition of an additional pane of plate glass. This will make a complete change in the entrance front which will be for the better. Jess Hood, of Steward and Hood, has the wood work and W. J. Hemler and Robet Carroll have been taking care of the cement work on the job. It will be three or four days before the job is done." (Verde Copper News; Saturday, May 9, 1925.)
"GREALY IMPROVED: The new plate glass windows in the J. O. Braley Company garage building owned by Charles D. Willard, greatly enhances the appearance of the building and a photo taken before the change and one taken now would scarcely be identified as being the same structure if the sign overhead were obliterated. The old front was of 2 lights of plate glass 4 feet in width and 6 feet in height and no headers of small lights. The new arrangement consists of triple glass plates each 4 feet wide and 6 feet long [high] divided by 2 copper dividing arrangements and headed by smaller lights 18 inches long [high] and 9 inches in width." (Verde Copper News; May 12, 1925.) One of these 1925 windows exists on the south side of the building. Part of the north window was demolished to accommodate Bootleggers (now, the vacant north side of the building).
"DISPLAY WINDOW: The J. O. Braley Company has finished the platform in its windows and has a nice display showing quite a variety of automobile accessories and wares that it is handling. The building has been made to appear much more business-like by the recent alterations and the personnel of the company seems to be much satisfied with the results." (Verde Copper News; Friday, May 15, 1925.)
There was a large, wide, central front entrance where cars could be driven into the building. When the business was not open and at night the large bi-fold doors were closed.
"BUSINES CHANGE: With the coming of summer, there also comes a change in the personnel of the J. O. Braley Company. J. O. Braley is retiring and B. M. Carroll, J. M. Foster, Jr., and H. B. Ashby are taking over the interest held by J. O. Braley. Braley has been identified with the business from the start about 2 years ago, and although the deal is made, he continues to be about the place until he has decided as to what he will do in the future or where he will go. His many friends hope that he will not leave the district. The successors of Mr. Braley are all affable people who will hold the same respect of the people that Mr. Braley did during his incumbency as the head of the institution." (Verde Copper News; Saturday, May 30, 1925.}
"PAINTING FRONTS: Jess Foster armed himself with a camel's hair brush, and a lot of white paint and went all over the new windows and the wood work yesterday with the first coat. He plans on going over it a time or two more with some more coats, and when he gets through the woodwork will be nice and white. [Next door on the south] Charles Stemmer has just completed a coat of green paint on the front of the Post Office Building." ... "At last they have decided. The Post Office is trimmed in front an almost shamrock green. Now J. O. Braley and Co. comes out with a daring almost orange color. ... Aside from all the jokes, however, the trimming adds beauty to the buildings and makes for that newer and greater Cottonwood that we expect very shortly." (Verde Copper News; May 19; and May 20, 1925.)
By May 20, 1927, the owners of the Cottonwood Garage property were: Charles D. Willard and his daughters, Alice Hancock, Emma L. Farley, Jennie W. Garrison, and Ina Garrison. The building continued to be rented or leased as a garage. Later, W. Ersel Garrison used the building for his businesses. For a while the north side of the building was used by the Cottonwood Water Works. The heirs, W. Ersel and Jennie (Willard) Garrison finally conveyed the property to Mr. and Mrs. Moen during 1973. (Recorded July 28, 1986; Book 1841 of Deeds, page 537.)
See; The Verde Independent: "1916-1918: COTTONWOOD GARAGE; Phillip V. D. Neff;" October 25, 2013.
The 1915 Cottonwood Garage after the north and south additions were completed. This building was removed during 1922, and replaced by the new Cottonwood Garage at 1028 N. Main Street.