Tag Archives: museum

William H. Seward House

The Seward House

Built in 1816 by the future father in law of William Seward, the Seward House is now a museum.

William H. Seward

William Seward was the governor of New York State, a U.S. senator for New York, and probably best known as the U.S. Secretary of State as a member of Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals”.

The Seward library

Seward led a fascinating life. He was not a big man in stature, but he was certainly a bold man who dominated the politics of his era.

Leave your sword with the bear at the door.

Seward lost to Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860, but then became Lincoln’s Secretary of State.

Painting depicting the signing of the purchase of the Alaska Territory

We took the tour of the house, led by a volunteer guide. It’s well worth the hour it takes to conclude the tour. The price was $10 with the AAA card.

The House holds a lot of Seward family heirlooms. William Seward took the home over from his father in law, and Seward’s son followed him, and his grandson took over the home from there. William H. Seward III donated the house to the foundation.

The purchase of Alaska is prominently displayed throughout the tour. One member of our party tried to get the woman at the desk to let me look through the photo album in the glass case. She politely declined.

There is a Native Alaskan kayak displayed from the ceiling in the carriage house. The kayak was given to Seward during his visit to Alaska in 1869.

A parlor in the house. Seward passed away while lying on the couch in the picture, although the couch was in another room at the time of his death.

Seward’s office, which is the room the former Secretary of State died in.

Glenn Curtiss Museum

Hammondsport, New York

On our way to Geneva, NY we stopped in to the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum. Curtiss was one of aviation’s early pioneers, and this little museum is well worth stopping for.

Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny”

The 1917 Curtiss “Jenny” is a beautiful plane. Often called the “Model T Ford” of the air, the “Jenny” had a major contribution to early aviation.

A P40 Warhawk undergoing restoration

In the back room is a P40 Warhawk undergoing a major restoration. This particular P40, was involved in a mid-air collision in 1945. It crashed into a Florida swamp, and sat there until 1986, when the plane was taken out piece by piece. The museum is the 4th owner of the plane, having purchased it in 2011. Restoration is expected to be completed in 2-3 years.

There are several classic, early motorcycles in the museum, including a 1907 Curtiss. The 1907 was powered by a 40HP, air cooled, V8, and was capable 140 mph.

The Curtiss Triad was the first U.S Navy aircraft. It was could take off or land on water or land.

The Collier Trophy, presented to Curtiss in 1911

The 1914 Curtiss America Flying boat has a 72′ wingspan on the upper wing, and a 46′ lower wing span. It is powered by two Curtiss OXX6 engines, which are hand crank started. The massive float plane’s restoration in the museum shop was completed in September 2007. The plane was taken out for a test flight later that month.

A 3/4 scale P40E Warhawk and a WWII era Ford jeep.

Hemingway Museum

Located in Oak Park is the Ernest Hemingway Museum. Most of the exhibits focus on Hemingway’s Oak Park years, but there is information that explores all facets of his life. There are two videos playing on a loop, one of which is exclusive to the museum.

The Isle, an exhibit in the center of the museum, covers Hemingway’s time with both the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star, as well as his love of nature, and how he incorporated that into his writings.

It was an unexpected gem in Chicago, and I highly recommend it if you are in the Oak Park area.

A block and a half from the museum, is the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. A Queen Anne style house, built in 1890 by Hemingway’s grandparents. The home was purchased by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 1992. A major restoration was then started to bring the home back to the condition it was in when the Hemingways resided there.

It’s a neat house, and well worth the time to tour it. Price of admission to the museum includes the tour of the home. You are free to return a second day to take in all of the exhibits and videos. The volunteers are first rate, and very knowledgeable.

“The Farthest North Auto Museum”

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Between hockey tournaments, we stopped by the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. The museum is one of Fairbanks’ lesser known gems. It is quite the collection of classic vehicles. The Curator, of course, wanted to see the three midget cars, and I pretty much wanted to see everything.

Three Midgets
Fountainhead’s three midget racers

The three midget racers include a 1934 Wetteroth-Offenhauser, a 1937 Winters-Ford Midget V8-60, and a 1938 Southwest Chrome Special Elto. The Offenhauser had been driven by Bob Swanson.

1906 Pope-Toledo
1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII 7-passenger Touring

One wing of the museum has a collection of cars with Alaska ties. It includes a 1906 Pope-Toledo, which was the first production car to arrive in Fairbanks. Also included is the Sheldon Runabout, which was the first car built entirely within Alaska. It was “manufactured” by Bobby Sheldon in 1905 to impress a young lady. The Sheldon Runabout is on loan from the University’s Museum of the North.

1932 Chrysler
1932 Chrysler Custom Imperial Series CL Convertible Sedan

The ’32 Chrysler is one, absolutely beautiful car. I bet it’s damn fun to drive as well.

1927 Stutz
1927 Stutz Vertical Eight Custom Series Black Hawk Boattail Speedster

As I’ve posted on here before, I’ve had a life-long, yet sadly, long-distance love affair with Stutz. Look at those lines. Beautiful.

1919 McFarlan
1919 McFarlan Type 125 Sport Touring

The McFarlan was once owned by actor Walter Reid. Reid, who starred in over 180 films during the silent film era, was obsessed with cars and racing. Sadly, the actor died in 1923 at the age of 31. The vehicles, especially in this wing of the museum, have been moved closer together to accommodate the private events that take place during the fall and holiday seasons. Unfortunately, some of the vehicle locations did not provide outstanding cameos. This was one such case.

Roaring Road
Walter Reid in “The Roaring Road”, 1919

Due to the tight schedule we were on, we stopped by the museum on a day that they were closed because of winter hours. Luckily, we ran into the Fountainhead mechanic, and he gave us a quick, private tour. For which, we were both extremely greatful. The Antique Auto Museum is well worth checking out when in Fairbanks. I can not say enough, and will certainly be paying them another visit. Probably during regularly, scheduled hours.

Fountainhead is a working museum. In other words, the vast majority of the cars here, are operated at some point during the year. There are only a few exceptions to that rule. In all, the collection has over 80 vehicles at this point.

CCC Museum

CCC Museum
The CCC Museum, built by the CCC in 1939

Within Highlands Hammock State Park is the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. The CCC was started in 1933 as a part of FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression. Originally, the program provided jobs to men between the ages of 18-23, it was eventually expanded to the ages of 17-28. The main target of the work was environmental: reforesting, erosion control, parks, flood control and similar projects.

CCC Barracks
Barracks life in the CCC

The young men were provided food, shelter, clothing and a small payment of $30, of which $25 went directly to their families. The CCC was in every state and territory, and at any one time 300,000 men were in the program. Over the nine years leading up to WWII, 3 million men went through the CCC.

Florida CCC display

I’ve seen CCC works all around the country, and several parks within Florida have signs of the Civilian Conservation Corps having been there. The enrollees were called Roosevelt’s Tree Army by some, due to the 3 billion trees planted by the CCC in a major reforestation plan for the country. The CCC was responsible for over 1/2 of the country’s reforestation.

CCC Monument
Dedicated to all CCC enrollees who were injured, disabled or lost their lives performing their duties. Especially those 228 CCC members who lost their lives in the three Upper Keys Camps, Florida on 2 September 1935 in the Labor Day Hurricane.

CCC Poster

It’s a neat, little museum, and the volunteer I spoke with served at Eielson AFB in 1958, before Alaska was granted statehood. There were several volunteers there who had been involved with the CCC as young men. A common theme was that they had lied about their age to get in; also that it did them a world of good. One mentioned that a side effect of the CCC program was that the majority of those men were later involved in WWII, and that the CCC allowed them to adapt to the military rather quickly. Something I had not considered before.

Noted CCC alums: Alvin C. York, Raymond Burr, Robert Mitchum, Chuck Yeager, Stan Musial, and Walter Matthau.

The Museum of Vanning

Museum of Vanning

On the off day, The Frozen Foursome visited the Museum of Vanning in Hudson, FL. In all honesty, I had no idea such a place existed, but the museum dedicated to the van life style is currently moving into new digs.

Mini Van Collection
Mini Van Collection

The museum is the result of decades of collecting van related items. We stopped by so that The Curator could relay some words of wisdom regarding the world of museums, and the rest of us gave advice based on our own life skills. I have no idea if anything we said was of use to the museum staff, but I do wish them luck. They are obviously passionate in what they are doing, which should be commended.

Bricks for Vans

If you have fond memories of your time in a shag carpet lined Econoline, or just like vans in general, their website is http://www.vanning.com
One can also sponsor a brick, which can have your name, logo, or favorite van likeness embossed on it. Any bricks purchased are tax deductible, and will go to supporting this unique museum.

Personally, I’m more of an Overlander, but I’m sure the van community is its own unique cult which has its own supporters. If you are a member, give their site a look.

National Motorcycle Museum

Anamosa, Iowa

National Motorcycle Museum
National Motorcycle Museum

This was mainly a service run, as we dropped off materials to the National Motorcycle Museum on our way to Madison.

1920's era Shell Gas Station
A modular Shell Gas Station, circa 1920. Restored and now displayed in the museum.

I was offered a quick walk through, and happily accepted, especially since I was given strict orders to spend some time in the museum, even if I had to steal the car keys in order to manufacture the time.

Board Track Exhibit
Board track exhibit at NMM.

What a phenomenal museum! Well worth the trek over to Anamosa. This place is loaded, and I really do mean loaded, with bikes. This is one extensive collection. I will come back through, and allow myself a full day to explore.

Harley Davidson Poster