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American Treasure Tour – Mindblowing Collection of Americana Oaks, PA

Posted on: August 9, 2012

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!

American Treasure Tour Entrance

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!)

Ronald McDonald and The Collection

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.

Guided Tram Tour

( 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 🙂

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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!

Amish Man

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.

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  • Wow, what a great place. Count me in if you’re planning a tour!

    • Paul – I’m putting your name on the list now! We just need 12 more Retro Roadmap pals – or others – to get a tour together, so if you know people who would be interested, let me know!

  • tammy o

    no way! i climb at the philly rock gym every week, which according to the map is literally right next door. every once in a while a see an old timey car driving around the parking lot at the gym. keep my in the loop about a retro roadmap tour.

    • Tammy O – we have friends who go to the Rock Gym too, and they were equally surprised about this hidden gem! I’ll definitely keep you posted about a Retro Roadmap tour – looks like we only need another 12 folks to join and we’ll be all set!

  • HI ModB

    Thanks. Good reason for a road trip.

    Ever visit the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA? I copied the following from their website:

    Mercer Museum History

    By 1897 handmade objects were being discarded in favor of new machine-made goods. Historian and archaeologist Henry Mercer (1856-1930) recognized the need to collect and preserve the outmoded material of daily life in America before it was swept away by the Industrial Revolution. Mercer gathered almost 30,000 items ranging from hand tools to horse-drawn vehicles and assembled this encyclopedic collection in a system of his own devising. To enhance the collection’s educational value, and to share it with the public, Mercer decided to design and build a museum to display the artifacts.

    In 1916, Mercer erected a 6-story concrete castle. The towering central atrium of the Museum was used to hang the largest objects such as a whale boat, stage coach and Conestoga wagon. On each level surrounding the court, smaller exhibits were installed in a warren of alcoves, niches and rooms according to Mercer’s classifications — healing arts, tinsmithing, dairying, illumination and so on. The end result of the building is a unique interior that is both logical and provocative. It requires the visitor to view objects in a new way.

    For more information, visit


    • We had plans to go to the Mercer last spring but they fell through – I’m putting it back on the list -thanks for the remindeR!

  • Jason

    Depending on the time and date, I’d love to join in the Retro Roadmap tour of the American Treasure Tour. Count me in (tentatively)!

    • Jason – I’ll add you to the list! We don’t have a date set, it would probably be a Saturday or Sunday. I’m just trying to gauge interest to see if there are enough Retro Roadmap Readers to make a 15 person visit. Thanks!

  • Mod Betty— Add us to the list as well. If we’re free, we’re in!

    By the way, another fascinating place to visit is the Shelbourne Museum which is located in Vermont’s scenic Lake Champlain Valley, Shelburne Museum is one of the finest, most diverse, and unconventional museums of art and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds.

    Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and a dazzling array of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts are on view. Shelburne is home to the finest museum collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys, and carriages.

    Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, important collectors of European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic. (Shamelessly copied from their website)
    Visit for more information.
    Not quite sure if it is in keeping with this blog but I suppose it is.

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