Old-Tahoe torn down for car parts store

The old garage came down Aug. 6 Photo/Dave Kurtzman

The old garage came down Aug. 6 Photo/Dave Kurtzman

By Bill Kingman

A South Lake Tahoe icon was razed today.

The old Springmeyer garage. Photo/Bill Kingman

The old Springmeyer garage. Photo/Bill Kingman

The landmark Highway 50 frontage from Izzy’s Burger Spa up to Lake Tahoe Glass is owned by Marjorie Johnson Springmeyer of Tahoe’s pioneer Johnson family.

The old cabin is being relocated. Photo/Dave Kurtzman

The old cabin is being relocated. Photo/Dave Kurtzman

The brick-and-frame building was taken down Aug. 6. It will be replaced by an Auto Zone store.

Longtime local Dave Wakeman remembers that the late-Melvin “Buzz” Springmeyer, a World War II fighter pilot, operated his garage and International trucks dealership there from the late 1940s into the 1970s.

Springmeyer and bride, Marjorie, lived in the quaint cottage directly behind it. It was cut in two, but put back together and hauled off-site.

At the right end of the garage was Springmeyer’s service station with two gasoline pumps. This was before Highway 50 was widened in 1957.

More recently, the vacant area between the garage and today’s Lake Tahoe Glass became a self-service Fill-’em Fast gas station operated in the 1970s by Boyett & Son.

A former local business, Harrison Radiator Works, had no building but instead operated on wheels. It regularly parked between Buzz’s garage and the little cottage in back.


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Comments (26)
  1. Local says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    I’d like to see the eye sore at the Y with all the old/dusty cars and old/cranky owner torn down. That would improve the Y area 100% immediately.

    I watched an elderly couple simply checking out the cars as I was at a red light. In no time at all NUMB NUTS came out an ran them off. What a horses behind he is.

  2. Tahoebluewire says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    Bout time. That thing was a freKin eyesore. But I suppose an Auto Zone is worse.

  3. Snow says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    Agreed, eyesore at the Y should be revamped/torn down/moved. Waste of prime space and sad welcome to whatever the “powers that be” deem Tahoe South to be.

  4. eco alarmist says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    Mmmmm, underground 1950s era fuel tanks and a mobile radiator repair business with no building (where did they store and dispose the used coolant?). Yikes, not just an icon, but also a good reason to test your well water!

  5. Mark Mallatt says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    I had Buzz rebuild my International Harvester Black Diamond engine in that garage. That truck ran great.

  6. Good Riddance says - Posted: August 6, 2014

    Probably a superfund site as well. At least most of that dirt lot will be paved and hopefully a new sidewalk and landscaping is coming too. Maybe that will push Izzy’s to build a real parking lot and have some landscaping and put on some new paint.

  7. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Bill, Buzz Springmeyer worked on our International Harvester Scout in that building. As I recall, the place had dirt floors. This was probably in the mid 60’s. Across the way, Izzy’s Burger Spa used to be a pet store where they had a young lion in a cage made out of chicken wire. I bought an iguana in that store as a youngin’, where now I buy a burger and nacho fries. Don’t know what became of the lion. OLS

  8. JohnnyGP says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Runnell’s is an eye sore and an embarrassment to the South Lake Tahoe. Those cars are not antiques. They are rusted pieces of junk that should either be restored or sold for metal. In either case, get them out of our sight!
    Who in the city or county is protecting him?

  9. Atomic says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Runnels is gaming the system. He must ACT like a business in order to keep his personal car collection there. He inherited the land from his father and somewhere along the way decided to employ the ‘bait and bully’ game he now plays. Bait people in with the illusion of a business and bully them off his land. He is a sociopath. He pulled that on the wrong guy recently and got knocked to the ground….at which time he pulled a gun. Real hero.

  10. tony colombo says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    How about the unfinished car wash next to Taco Bell on Highway 50? I had no idea you could obtain a construction permit and not finish. Shucks- It’s Dejavu all over again.

  11. Steven says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    What about Izzy, what a piece of junk that is. How do they get away with a dirt parking lot. It is unlawful to park on the dirt, right TRPA ?

    And then all that greasy hamburger smoke they spew out, isn’t that harmful TRPA ?

  12. reloman says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    i hear the unfinished car wash is in escrow as the owner resently passed on. it was unfinished becasue whoever designed it designed it a couple feet too smal and the washing equipement couldnt fit.

  13. Know Bears says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    I’m sure we’re in the minority, but we kind of like to look at the ugly old cars as we sit at the red light. It always seemed harmless, and added to the funky aura of the area. (I like the funky aura, and have hated watching it disappear over the decades.)

    However, if Buzz is armed, something needs to be done.

  14. Please! says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Do we really need a third auto parts store? All within 2 miles of each other? Seems over kill! I can’t argue with the fact that the lot and it’s buildings all need updating. But let’s bring something to town we could benefit from….

  15. fatalreview says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    I agree with eco-alarmist–sounds like a a contamination zone more than a landmark and should the Springmeyers be questioned about how waste was disposed at the gas station /illegal radiator shop? and why with all the empty retail space in town would the City allow AutoZone to build something that will just stand empty in 3 years when the corporate realizes that the profit margin is too low-everyone thinks they can do business in Tahoe-remember Donovan Demin Bar-gads what bad market research was that one?? how about just checking for contaminates and making it back to nature instead of a gravel pit or a parking lot

  16. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    The determination of the use of private property that was purchased from the Springmeyer family and the decision to add another auto parts store in SLT is wholly up to whoever purchased the property and decides to build a brand new, current and up to building code structure, complete with BMPs and landscaping. Anyone wanting something other than an auto parts store had the opportunity to make their monetary investment and bring in something else or they could have restored it back to nature. It’s called free enterprise. Unless of course the good people of SLT would want to give over to this and future City Council’s the absolute authority to determine what businesses they would allow to operate in town.

  17. Dogula says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Thanks for pointing that out, 4-mer. I was going to, but then I realized that my doing so would only start a slug-fest.

  18. reza says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    4mer is right. Let them put a new building in with BMPs. Then one of the other parts stores will belly up and someone new may come in and tear down or fix up. They must believe they can steal enough market share to make a go of it. Personally I think its stupid but its their $$.

    Same thing with Bev-Mo. Their liquor sales will come out of someone’s pocket. Maybe it will be the Bottle Shop or one of the other run down looking liquor places. Either way we get a new building instead of the garbage that was there.

  19. rock4tahoe says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    OMG! The sky is falling. Someone bulldozed those derelict buildings across from the 7 Eleven. How dare they do that and try to put in another business. LOL!

  20. Atomic says - Posted: August 7, 2014

    Thanks for the history on that building but……good riddance . That place is just one of many that needed to get scraped long ago. New building, architectural alpine requirements, bmps etc, sounds like progress to me. Auto parts? Yawn.

  21. B.C. says - Posted: August 8, 2014

    cant we all be glad the creepy old chinese buffet on 89 by the Y got bulldozed

  22. Shelley says - Posted: August 8, 2014

    I am thoroughly distressed and disgusted right now. It is 2:25 P.M. on Friday, August 8th. I just drove by the Springmeyer site and witnessed the removal of beautiful healthy trees. It looks like about 16 trees in total will be cut down to make way for the new Auto Zone store. Why is this okay? Why are we allowing lovely old tress to be razed for a new building in our little mountain town? Aren’t there still plenty of vacant store sites in our town? My vote (not that anyone was asked as far as I know) would have been to take down the old eyesore building and create a green area – much easier on the eyes as you are driving, cycling, walking, or running down Highway 50. And…please keep your cynicism and your hater comments to yourselves…..bottom line is that we (i.e. citizens & those in charge of approving this project) should not have allowed this to happen.

    P.S. I took a few pictures. Kae – let me know if you want me to send them to you!

  23. Moral Hazard says - Posted: August 8, 2014

    Because there are millions and millions and millions of trees is my guess.

    The solution is to purchase the property.

  24. cosa pescado says - Posted: August 8, 2014

    Yup. ~20million mapped trees in the Tahoe Basin.
    There are better places for greenspace. Like the weird amusement park that is right near the river.

    ‘ it was unfinished becasue whoever designed it designed it a couple feet too smal and the washing equipement couldnt fit.’


  25. Moral Hazard says - Posted: August 8, 2014

    That old amusement park would be a great city park with playground equipment and the like. It could be awesome.

    But then I don’t have the money to buy it and make that happen, so I don’t have a vote, and that is the way the world should work.

  26. sunriser2 says - Posted: August 11, 2014

    Our city should have a mechanism to allow owners of old commercial buildings accelerated tax right-offs for donating the property.

    The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has an affiliated entity that can hold title to donated property. Somehow this allows the donating party to accelerate their tax deduction.