Monday, July 31, 2017

The Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan, July 31, 2017--Part 8: Strolling the Grounds

The 90 acre campus of the Gilmore Car Museum leaves plenty of room for not only the quite substantial museum buildings but also provides a park-like setting where there are some other historic things to look at and enjoy.  As we walked out of the main Gilmore building, a Ford Model T chugged by us and swung down the road to the Blue Moon Diner.

Originally opened as "Joe's Diner" on Center Street, the main drag in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1941, the 35 seat diner was built by the Paterson Vehicle Company of Paterson, New Jersey.  It was one of the company's Silk City Diner line and continued to serve customers first as "Joe's Diner," then as "Gina's Diner" when Joe's daughter took it over, and finally to become known as "The Blue Moon Diner" by the time it closed in 1997.  The Gilmore Museum acquired it and the diner travelled first to Cleveland for a partial restoration and then on to Hickory Corners, where volunteers continued the refurbishment and the diner was open for business again in 2004.

With its porcelain enamel tiles on the outside and blue tiles with stainless steel trim on the inside, the Blue Moon Diner is a very fine example of road architecture.  It is not a static exhibit but offers a modest lunch to museum visitors.

This charming gasoline station was a short walk from the diner and is a recreation of a typical service station of the past.  It was built in 1999 using original 1928 blueprints and features authentic pumps, tools and signage that would have been used into the 1950s.  Many of us can remember the days when service stations offered not only gas but oil changes, tune-ups, tires and most repairs but since the late 1970s have been pretty much replaced by self-serve gas stations with variety stores.

This little train switch tower was built for the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad (later part of the New York Central) and used for nearly a century until it was relocated to the museum grounds and restored in 1964.

Built on the museum grounds in 1966, this replica of a local train depot represents what would have been typical in Small Town America for many decades.  Trains, both passenger and freight, were a key element of the US transportation system until the development of the Interstate highway system in the 1950s.  The wide roof of the depot sheltered passengers from the rain and the bay window allowed the stationmaster to see trains arriving.

1907 American Juvenile Electric Runabout
Made in Toledo, Ohio, by the American Metal Wheel and Auto Wheel Company, this electric runabout for children was introduced in 1906 and had a range of 20 miles.  Capable of 10 mph, it was a toy for the wealthy since it cost $800 at a time when a full-scale Curved Dash Oldsmobile was $650.  It would have been no surprise that it was off the market after only two years in production.

The train depot houses the Gilmore Museum's very extensive collection of automobile mascots/hood ornaments.

1940 Pontiac Sculpture
Also to be found on the Gilmore Car Museum grounds is this sculpture by artist Paula Blincoe Collins of Denton, Texas.  Entitled "Mom's Favourite Car," it is made of 12,000 lbs of clay bricks and took three years from conception to completion.  It was inspired by the first car the artist's parents owned and the one in which Ms. Collins had her first car ride as a baby.  Her mother had claimed that the Pontiac was her favourite car so her daughter brought it back as an art object.

Continue to Part 9 of the Gilmore Car Museum visit here.

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