2013-04-12 / Community

A Window on the Past

Hansen Chrysler Plymouth on Waterman Drive
South Portland Historical Society
By Kathryn DiPhilippo

A dealership on Waterman Drive in South Portland is now the site of Norway Savings Bank. (Courtesy photos) A dealership on Waterman Drive in South Portland is now the site of Norway Savings Bank. (Courtesy photos) The Hansen Chrysler Plymouth dealership that many of us remember at 207 Waterman Drive (now the site of Norway Savings Bank) was actually established many years prior to its arrival in South Portland.

According to Henrietta Larou, after her husband Phil Larou had served in World War II, he came back home and found a job working in the office of the Hansen dealership that was located at 300 Forest Ave. in Portland. Donald Allen and Henry Dingley owned the business back then – the location on Forest Avenue was a Studebaker dealership and another location on Winslow Street was the site of their DeSoto dealership. After about 20 years of working with Allen and Dingley, Phil Larou eventually bought the dealership and moved the business to South Portland.

According to Mrs. Larou, the move was needed due to the construction of I-295 and its on- and off-ramps on Forest Avenue. Phil Larou obtained financing through Chrysler and the construction of the new dealership on Waterman Drive took place in 1968. In the accompanying photo from the society’s Phil and Henrietta Larou collection, we see the foundation taking shape. The photo also gives an interesting look at the surrounding area. On the right, we see the car wash building that later became home to AAMCO Transmission. Just beyond that we see two billboards – the one on the right is a treasure to see – it says “Please vote for our Dad – John E. Gill” (that would be referring to Ted Gill who owned and operated Gill’s Pharmacy on Main Street in Thornton Heights). Shaw’s Supermarket was located across the street in the Mill Creek Shopping Plaza, in the space now occupied by Shoppers Hardware and Pet Life.

The Hansen Chrysler Plymouth dealership was in operation for about 25 years, from 1968 to 1993. When we ran some of the dealership photos on Fa cebook, we heard from several people who remembered it fondly.

Lynda Dearborn Pietroforte said, “My father was surely there buying the latest and greatest Chrysler. The beginning of a long relationship with Hansen Chrysler Plymouth.”

Katie Ford commented, “My dad Joe Prout was the District Manager for them.”

Shawn Mountain remembered, “I worked there 1986- 1989, good memories!”

Several people remembered the cars they bought there: Robert Wildhage bought his first car, a 1979 Dodge, from Hansen; Dana Michaud bought his 1972 Dodge from them (“What a car!!” he said); and Jeanine Swanson said, “Gene and I bought our first new car there – 1970 Fury 3.”

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