Maple Lake lost an historical landmark last fall when the old service station on Ash Avenue South and Division Street East was torn down to make room for a new body shop. Some remember the old building as the place to get penny candy after school, but the history goes back much farther. In the 1930s it was called Webb’s Direct Service and was one of the first of a string of gas stations to pop up in downtown Maple Lake. Back then travelers could buy gas from at least seven downtown locations, according to the Maple Lake Centennial History book. At one point, a city ice house was located on the lot, said new owner Matt Bell who has a couple tongs as souvenirs from those olden days. Matt bought the building from his grandfather Harold Bell who ran Bell’s Service Station on the site from 1959 until 1974. On Oct. 9, Matt tore down the old building and soon after started construction on a new building that will be the home of Green Derby Customs where Matt will specialize in restoring classic cars and custom painting. The house on the same lot, which is still standing, goes back even further. Matt’s great aunt Helen Doherty, who will turn 103 in February, remembers staying in the house when she was about five years old. She told Matt that she and her sisters used to stay with relatives there because it was a closer walk to school than from the family farm. That was back in the early twenties. “The church was built in 1922. She probably watched the church go up,” he said. Matt can remember many pleasant hours as a kid working with his grandfather in the shop fixing snowmobiles and other machines. He remembers his grandfather even suggesting at one point that the garage would be a good place for a body shop for him in the future. “It would be interesting to see his reaction, if he could see it happen,” Matt said.
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