About the Stuart Building

Constructed in 1926, our home, the Stuart Motor Building, is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, and was the first automobile showroom in the town. Ned R.Stuart, Sr. constructed the building to house his Ford and Essick car dealerships. The building was also home to Mr. Stuart’s family, who had an apartment upstairs in the front of the building.

Mr. Stuart served as Kernersville’s first Fire Chief, and, when the town purchased its first fire truck in 1928, Ned kept the truck in our building until the town could build its first fire station.

The building is a model of solid construction, featuring thick (14-16 inches) brick walls, large steel girders, skylights, a large sliding door on the Church Lane side, and typical tilt-out windows.

During World War II, as automotive manufacturers converted their industrial facilities to produce war materials, there was great anticipation that after the war ended, citizens would be able to purchase vehicles again. Mr. Stuart, like most car dealers of the time, took $25.00 deposits from local citizens, and promised to place their orders with Ford as soon as cars became available. He held about 140 such deposits in late 1946 when Ford decided to award the local dealership to another businessman. Ned returned all the deposits. Those canceled checks, bearing the names of a veritable “Who’s-Who” for the town of Kernersville in the 1940-1960 era, can be found in a Stuart memorabilia display in our office.

About Ned Stuart

A strong-willed and principled man, Mr. Stuart became a leader in Kernersville community and civic affairs. Popular legend surrounding Mr. Stuart’s loss of his dealership goes somewhat as follows: The Ford regional executive, a well-dressed big-city type, came to Kernersville and began telling Ned about the changes which would have to be made to his business facility and methods of operations in order to continue to sell Fords. Mr. Stuart, in a not-so-gentle manner, escorted the Ford rep off his property, and told him that he would continue to operate his motor car business just as he always had—with honesty and fairness—and that no one from Ford, nor from anywhere else would dictate his manner of business!

This story always draws a chuckle from those who knew Mr. Stuart well. He was his own man—strong, opinionated, honest. He continued his automobile business, doing repairs, acquiring the most powerful wrecker in the county, and developing a substantial towing and auto parts business which he and his descendants operated until Ned’s death, at age 92, in 1986.

Clockwise from top: Ned Stuart (painting), son Robert Stuart, and grandson Russ Stuart.
Original photo.

Simple, Solid, Built to Last

Ned Stuart served as Kernersville’s fire chief for nearly forty years, but he also served during wartime and afterwards in civil defense positions, and in other civic leadership roles. He was an icon of strength, integrity, and stability for the Kernersville community.

When an airliner ran off the runway, Mr. Stuart’s wrecker was the only one capable of pulling it back onto solid ground; when the 18-wheelers ran into the ditch, they called Mr. Stuart.

In many ways, the Stuart Motor Company building is like Mr. Stuart—simple, solid, built to last. In 1986, the Stuart family converted the front of the building to office use as an investment brokerage.

The rear, or garage portion of the building remained largely unused until the building was sold to the Coltrane family in 2004.

The Coltranes restored the building and remodeled the garage area into a 3,000 square foot law office and an adjoining 1,500 square foot office suite. The two office suites in the front of the building were later renovated as well.

Coltrane Grubbs, PLLC