When you were a kid did you ever think that there might be buried treasure right in your own back yard? All you needed was a map, with a dotted line, and an X to mark the spot?
Well it can actually happen!
I recently discovered the biggest treasure trove of vintage Americana hidden right in our backyard – well, in Oaks, PA – the town next door to Retro Roadmap HQ. And because it’s too amazing to keep to myself, I
want to HAVE TO share the wealth and spread the word about the American Treasure Tour!
My treasure map was via word of mouth with a dotted line from a local pal to their neighbor, dotted its way to me, and the X was at a building I drive past all-the-time! I was flabbergasted to realize this place was just under my nose and under my Retro Radar, but when I found out it had only been open to the public since April of this year I didn’t feel so bad.
Making it even more intriguingly mysterious is that the collection is open to the public by appointment only, and for groups of 15 or more. I knew it was my duty to scope out the place for you, dear readers, and contacted marketing director Ginni Frey, who was able to add me in on an already scheduled tour.
As I drove up to the massive building with the giant blue tower ( I learned on the tour that it used to be a B.F. Goodrich tire plant) I did not know what to expect, but once I entered the 100,000 square foot space, I realized there was no way I could have been prepared for such a sight!
(To give you an idea of how big 100,000 square feet is, it’s almost 3 acres – or about the size of a super-sized big box chain store. But so much cooler!)
The few photos I’ll show here are meant to pique your interest but in no way can the visual overload be effectively captured on film – though I tried! It’s kinda like taking a photo of a sunset, or the Grand Canyon though, it just doesn’t do it justice. (Though you can check out my other photos of the American Treasure Tour here at the Retro Roadmap Flickr Group)
The sheer volume of items, the showcasing of them from floor to ceiling, the mass quantities, it’s all wonderfully overwhelming, and you should really experience it yourself, in person.
And what might you see on your 90 minute guided tour?
Off the top of my head:
Nickelodeons, player pianos, vintage records, movie posters, vintage signs, halloween masks, band organs and calliopes, carnival rides, vintage cars, arcade games, antique store displays, circus memorabilia, antique music boxes, vintage toys, dolls, clown cars, theatre organs, vintage motor cycles and scooters, model airplanes, holiday displays, player pianos – JUST TO NAME A FEW!
In fact, the display area is so large and so cram packed with delightful vintage goodies that you are actually transported around in a TRAM CAR to see and hear all of what they have on display. This is a good thing too, because you’ll see so much on the tour that you’ll actually want to have a seat to absorb it all.
( I was added onto a tour of Red Hat Ladies, and learned that the lady with the purple chapeu is the birthday girl!)
Now you know me, and I don’t believe in giving it all away, because then why would you go there yourself? And I’ve been told that there are even more items in storage that are going to be added to this display, so it will be expanding even more and change with the seasons, so there will always be something new to see.
All I can say is if you’re into history, collecting, vintage goodies, “cool old places and things” you owe it to yourself to get there. Trust me- you won’t be disappointed.
Another tantalizing tidbit about this collection is that it is all owned by one person, who has amassed this magnificent menagerie over the past 30-50 years of collecting. As someone who has the collecting bug but not the funds to pursue it in this scale, that is mind-boggling. And to think that if it wasn’t for the vision of this collector, many of these items may have ended up in a landfill, and none of us would have the opportunity to enjoy them.
Retro Roadhusband says if ever I feel like I want to start my own big collection, I should just visit here instead
While you’re here you’ll learn the history of many of the items of the collection as the tours are guided by Ginni and her husband Jerry, who are the knowledgeable caretakers of the collection. So not only will you come away awe-inspired, but informed!
While the American Treasure Tour is currently geared towards bus tours, civic groups and school tours, as long as you have a group of 15+ together, you can schedule a tour of your very own. Meals can be provided on site, or around the corner in their adjacent restaurant space, and I think this place would be Absolutely Fabulous for parties and events!
Ginni and Jerry are as excited as I am about sharing this collection with as many people as I am, so if you don’t have a group of 15+ people ready to visit, you can request to be put on the waiting list and added to another group tour like I was. And because there are even more items hidden in the wings and not on display, you know you will see something new each time you visit.
I’m thinking if we get enough Retro Roadmap Readers interested we can get our own tour together – if you’re interested just raise your hand!
There are big plans for the American Treasure Tour, and even in the short time since my visit they’re making it even easier to get to, by adding a direct route to the museum.
Keep up on all their happenings on their Facebook Page and put this place on your Philadelphia area vintage-inspired bucket list! It’s a Retro Roadmap destination we’re proud to have in our own back yard.