Botterill was leader among Denver’s early car dealers

Tom Botterill at his desk as a Hudson dealer in Denver many years ago.

I enjoyed a visit in late February with Adam Botterill, who owns and operates Botterill Excavation in Johnstown.

It wasn’t that I needed excavation work done, my interest was digging back three generations to Adam’s great-grandfather, Thomas Botterill.

Tom Botterill was among Denver’s earliest automotive dealers and one of the most prominent of the first half of the 20th century. Botterill in 1901 was named manager of the Pierce Arrow automobile store in Denver; by 1903 he became agent for the company. When he sold 40 new cars that year, he couldn’t imagine ever selling that many again. By the time he retired in the 1940s, though, it was estimated he had sold 25,000 autos.

It was from this building in 1921 that Botterill loaned his ace salesman, Thomas D. Braden, for doing the legwork, not for selling cars, but for selling charter memberships into the newly formed Denver Automobile Dealers Association.

Botterill was elected president of the group, and Braden served as its secretary for that year and 40 more. First-year directors for the association included D.W. James, Finlay L. MacFarland, Arthur Kumpf, O.L. Davis Jr., Fred Green and Myron L. Smith.

Botterill Hudson Essex sign sat high above dealership in Denver in the 1930s.

Dodge Brothers was sold to Chrysler Corporation later in the 1920s, at which time Botterill exchanged his Dodge business allegiance for a Hudson franchise, and moved his dealership a block away into the big building on the corner of Broadway and 13th Avenue. It was noted through the 1930s for a huge neon sign, “Botterill Hudson Essex,” rising high above the building top. The Buick line was also added to Botterill’s business for a few years.

By 1940, Tom and his family – wife Elizabeth and sons Thomas, 31, and William, 20 – resided in a nice home just east of City Park in the 4000 block of East 19th Avenue. When new car production in the U.S. shut down in 1942 for World War II, Botterill continued to sell a few used cars before retiring.

In addition to his year as president of the Denver dealers association, Botterill was a director of the National Auto Dealers Association, served office terms with the national Hudson dealers association, chairman of the state Highway Transport Committee, served on the State Council of Defense, president of the Lakewood Country Club, member of Denver Country Club, Denver Athletic Club, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and Episcopalian church.

Botterill died on Oct. 15, 1964, at age 91. About that time, Jack Botterill, a third son of Thomas, moved his family to Berthoud in northern Colorado, and other relatives have resided in Loveland and Johnstown. Jack’s son, George, who passed away nine years ago, was the father of Adam. Adam’s son Zavier Thomas Botterill, 23, is active in the excavation business with his father.

The elder Tom Botterill is destined for inclusion into the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.