Peter Smith didn't have time to talk last week.

Peter Smith didn't have time to talk last week.

He was finishing up his last day at the German Village Auto Haus and was heading to Lincoln, Neb., the following day.

"I'm ready," he said. "Already worked 51 years."

On Aug. 24, Smith closed his automotive-repair service that specialized in upscale foreign cars. He had owned the business since November 1973.

The property, 193 E. Beck St., was built in 1900, according to the Franklin County Auditor's website. It originally was used as a stable and warehouse for a grocery store, said Robert Duffy, whose father, Preston Duffy, purchased the land for $900 in the late 1940s and converted it into a commercial shop. It has been in the family ever since.

Now, Duffy plans to rent the two-story 2,000-square-foot space to someone else. He said he doesn't have a particular tenant in mind, though he's doubtful it will be another garage.

He said a real-estate agent, interested in turning the building into residential units, approached him about selling the land. Duffy said he's not interested and plans to leave the property in the family. Another business had expressed interest in leasing the building but no deal had been signed as of last week, he said.

German Village resident Chris Hune, who organized the 2011 Haus und Garten Tour, said she had been a customer of Smith's for about eight years. She said his store was a valuable community resource, as it appears to be the lone auto-repair shop in the neighborhood. Not only was it a local business, it was a place to for customers to socialize.

"We're really going to miss him," Hune said.

Because of the neighborhood's strict zoning standards, it likely would be difficult to get another service garage to open in German Village, said Jody Graichen, director of historic preservation programs for the German Village Society.

"We're very fortunate to have a lot of businesses in the neighborhood, and a diverse mix of businesses, but that's just a really handy business to have around the corner," Graichen said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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