I am always looking for ways to delay the inevitable journey home from whenever we go up to Massachusetts to visit my family, so when I spied a pamphlet extolling the virtues of the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum on one of our roadside stops, I implored RRH to stop so we could have a quick look around. Little did we know it would be a much longer look around – a guided tour even – but the place was so fascinating it was definitely time well spent.
Located just north of Hartford CT and an easy exit off of Route 91, the VR&CM of CT has been in existence in one location or another since 1990. Run by an all volunteer staff, the museum has been bounced from place to place since its inception, but has remained at this current location since 2006. They now own this unassuming single story commercial building, so I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
Admission was $7 for each of us, and as I mentioned, included a wonderfully interesting and informative guided tour. I’m blanking my name on the articulate and educated gentleman who led us through the hisory of communication – from Morse Code and Marconi’s wireless to modern computers, but it was a real treat.
As the museum’s website suggests, when you visit there you can:
- Tune radios over 80 years old…
- Talk over candlestick telephones like your grandparents used…
- Send a message in Morse Code…
- Crank a phonograph and listen to 100-year-old records…
- See what television was like when the only color choices were black and white.
Learn about the telegraph, telephone, mechanical sound recording, wireless telegraphy, radio and television, and the seeds of computers, satellite communications and the Internet. It’s all here at the museum.
We were fascinated to learn about some very unusual items, such as the movie projector with record player attached, and one of my faves – THE SHELVADOR!
There are tons of old gramaphones, telephones, radios and televisions on display (you can see more of my photos on the Retro Roadmap Flickr Page)
And no matter what era evokes a memory from your childhood, it’s probably represented there. We for example had that Snoopy telephone below, and I always thought the white one in front of it was one of the grooviest things I ever saw.
And hows this for a completely unexpected flashback! My great aunt Mimi was one of the first people we knew who had a television that worked with a remote control – and the “Space Commander 300″ on display below was the exact one she had.
One button was to turn the TV off and on, and the other changed the channel on her black and white set. BUT the funniest part to me is that the technology was such that it actually turned the dial on the front of the TV right before your eyes. So it looked like a ghost was changing the station each time you pushed the button. You had to push it as many times as it took for it to scroll around the dial, making a distintive “Ka-CHONK!” sound with each press of the button. Oh, but enough about my memory lane- there are still some neat things to know about the museum!
Like the fact that they have a swap meet coming up in June where they “deacession” (deaccess?) some of their donations to raise funds for the musuem. They also have a recording studio set up to look like a vintage studio – Retro Roadhusband was quite interested in that.
And, while we did not purchase one, I was tickled to see this item available in their gift shop – it’s a chess set- made from old radio tubes! The base is hand made by museum volunteers and you get your choice of tube styles.
So if you’re cruising through the middle of Connecticut and need a break from the present, do yourself a favor and swing on by the Vintage Radio and Communication Museum of Connecticut - trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut
115 Pierson Lane
Windsor, CT 06095
View CT – Connecticut Retro RoadMAP in a larger map