Reported in The Valley Times
Januar 18, 2001

THE DUARTE GARAGE in Livermore circa 1920.
Photo: Livermore Amador Historical Society File

History stands still at local garage

By Kyra Kitlowski

LIVERMORE - Standing in front of the old Lincoln Highway Garage, Livermore resident Bill Junk can almost imagine what this area looked like in 1915.

Model Ts instead of Honda Accords would be roaring down the road. Of course, what is now Portola Avenue would have been the Lincoln Highway, which later became Highway 50 and the first coast-to-coast stretch of pavement in the United States.

Known to many as the Duarte Garage, the Lincoln Highway Garage, built in 1915, still stands.

"I bet there would have been a bench right here with a group of men sitting down, talking about women," Junk said.

A member of the Livermore Heritage Guild board of directors since the 1980s, Junk has been one of a small number of residents to restore the building to keep it a part of history for Tri-Valley residents.

Built and run by Frank Duarte, the business sold gas and oil for the Association Oil Co. and became the distributor in Livermore for the Durant and Star automobile line.

In 1923, the size of the building doubled.

By 1940, it was converted into a shop for rebuilding machinery - particularly machines for farms and wineries.



Junk has been responsible for the restoration and upkeep of one of the group's favorite artifacts --- a candyapple red 1944 Mack fire truck.

The city bought the lot in the early 1970s to create a park, with plans to tear the building down.

That was until the Heritage Guild got wind of the city's plan.

"I was, to be honest, enraged about the fact (that the city) was going to close down this man's business," said Anna Siig, an active member of the Heritage Guild during that time.

"By the time the Heritage Guild got involved, it was too late to save
the business, and that was very sad." The guild's campaign to save the building from the bulldozer was successful, and the guild quickly became in charge of restoring the old tin building.

THE DUARTE GARAGE as it appears reflected in a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible owned by Ron Wald of Walnut Creek in 1999.

Over the years, the guild has repainted the blue and gold building, and the Coca-Cola Co. sent money to have the large and faded original red Coca-Cola sign repainted on one side of the garage.

The garage isn't open for daily tours, but the guild will be happy to arrange for a tour, said Barbara Bunshah, curator for the Heritage Guild.

"A lot of people come in and ask about it," Bunshah said. "They want to see what it looks like inside."

The garage is open every year during Memorial Day weekend for an auction put on by the guild to raise money for the building's continued restoration.

Junk said the guild is also trying to save money to build a museum at Duarte Garage.

Inside, the place is packed with items to be sold during the auction and three antique vehicles, including the 1944 fire engine.

Some of the original concrete and wood rafters are intact. "It ended up being a meaningful building," Siig said. "Although it isn't as gorgeous as some might want, we have taken many steps to make it look nice."

For more information about the Livermore Heritage Guild, call 925-449-9927 or visit its Web site at


February 18, 2001
Update: April 1, 2001