Motor Company Building/Homegrown Public House and Brewery - 294 Laurel St

“Then” picture courtesy of Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. Now photo by Jim Hays.

Then & Now - A look back at the Siuslaw region’s past

April 27, 2023 — This is the next in a series, in cooperation with the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, that will show well known (and some not so well known) landmarks and locations around the Florence and Mapleton area, as they appeared in the past along with how they appear today. We hope to increase appreciation of the “good ole’ days” and also help the reader to realize that today is tomorrow’s history.

At the corner where Laurel and Maple Street meet is a structure known locally as the “Motor Company Building”

Hans Petersen had the building constructed in 1925 after fire destroyed the previous location of his auto dealership on Bay (Front) Street. 

On Sep. 23, 1927 the Ponslers moved in.

Chester William ‘Jack’ Ponsler was born Oct. 30, 1884 and his wife Muriel Olevia Grant was born Sept. 21, 1897. They were married July 11, 1920.

They purchased the Florence service station from Hans Petersen and it became J. C. Ponsler Motor Company to be operated as a garage and Ford service business in connection with the Ford sales department.

Soon after their purchase, in Dec. 1927, several hundred people viewed the new Ford Tudor sedan in Florence at the J. C. Ponsler dealership. The new car arrived from Portland via the ferry from Mapleton and it was returned to Portland after the showing.

On February 1, 1929, the Ponsler Motor Company received a carload of Ford cars. It was probably the first carload of autos fully assembled to ever have been shipped into Florence.

In 1929, the Siuslaw Oar reporter Mr. Ponsler sold cars to various locals including Guilford Dudley (Ford Model T Town Sedan), Albert Haring, (Ford Model T), Ed Porterfield of Maple Creek (Ford Sports Coupe), and Arthur Whipple, (Ford Model A Roadster).

At some point in 1929 the Ponslers left the building on Laurel Street and moved their dealership to the building that now houses Hoberg Auto Repair on Highway 101.

J.C. Ponsler was important in many local civic and charitable organizations and donated beachfront property to the State of Oregon in memory of his wife. 14 miles north of Florence, it is known today as the Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint is a favorite beach for locals and visitors alike. 

Mr. Ponsler died at age 83 on Oct. 7, 1968 having lived a full life and known as the “man behind the scenes” in working for improvements on the Oregon coast.

For almost two decades after the Ponslers relocated, H.M. Petersen Motor Co - Chevrolet Sales and Service Station occupied the building until one day Petersen convinced an auto parts dealer from Albany, Henry “Hank” Johnson, that he needed to get into the car sales and service business. 

Johnson moved his family from Albany and bought the building and sales and service business. The Johnsons ran their sales and service business in the building until they moved to 1912 Highway 101 into the building that now houses Napa Auto Parts.

For a few decades after that the building fell into decline, housing various commercial ventures and living quarters. 

In 2003 the Jarman family bought the property and remodeled the portion at the corner of Laurel and Maple streets as a cafe/art gallery. 

In November 2003 the Terry family opened Homegrown Public House in the building bringing fresh and local food and drink to the people of the Florence area.

In August 2018 Scott and Elaine McMillan purchased Homegrown from the Terrys and began brewing beer in the back of the building, returning locally brewed micro-brewed beer to Florence.  

The Jarmans remained property owners until 2020 when the property returned to the hands of the Johnson family as Hank’s daughter, Pat (Johnson) Sapp and her husband Tim Sapp purchased the building. 

For more history like this visit the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum which is located at 278 Maple Street. The museum is open Wednesday - Sunday from Noon to 4 p.m.

Visit for more information.

To find out what beers they are brewing and what tasty foods they are cooking visit Homegrown Public House and Brewery’s website here