S.L. Davis would not be the first new car dealer to move out of downtown Rochester, but when he purchased the Oldsmobile franchise from Mike Stone in 1963, he was not going to be the last.

In September 1965, Davis opened his new dealership at 2911 S. Broadway, quite certain that he was setting the pace for other dealers to create a new “Automobile Row” along Highway 63 South.

Davis Oldsmobile may have advertised that they were “where the action is” but in reality when the other dealers began to leave downtown, they were headed the opposite direction.

In 1968, Mike Stone bought the Oldsmobile dealership back from Davis and, as was the custom of the day, he added a foreign car to the lineup. In 1973, under the name Viking Oldsmobile and Datsun, the dealership moved to Highway 52 North, becoming a member of “New Car Row.”

Lens on History is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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