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Author Topic: Memoryville USA, Rolla, Missouri, February 6, 2005 . . .  (Read 17529 times)
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« on: July 28, 2014, 01:40:42 AM »

Memoryville, USA in Rolla, Missouri .  .  .
February 6, 2005








Memoryville USA was located in the town of Rolla, Missouri along historic Route 66 about 100 miles south of where I used to live in Columbia.  I say "was" because while searching for some background information on the facility, I discovered that it closed in 2009 following the death of founder George Carney.  I was glad I had a chance to visit in 2005.  The photographic essay that follows details the highlights of my visit on that day .  .  .





"I was crazy about old cars .  .  ."
The Carney Family was pretty well known in Rolla and surrounding areas.  The family owned a bank, a few hotels, and several theaters.  George Carney followed the family business traditions and operated the Pennant Hotel on Route 66 in Rolla.



(from WhatWasThere.com, click for more information !)


But George was always an old car nut at heart.  The title quote above is from a Bob McEowen interview with George and his son, Steve that was posted on RuralMissouri.org.  In his time outside of the business world, George bought old cars and used the basement of the hotel to restore them.  He sold the hotel in 1970 and opened a museum and restoration shop.  The exterior appearance gave little clues to the surprises inside.  This place was huge !





The museum featured a little bit of everything, but mainly housed the large collection of cars George had amassed by that time.  This was a typical antique auto museum in that it featured many period correct items along with the cars.  There were model airplanes on the ceiling.





Several antique car engines were also featured throughout.


1917 Maxwell engine



The formal dress, car engines, and piano shown below struck me as an unusual combination of items to display next to each other.





Adding to this mental picture was a display of old cannons I passed as I entered the museum.





I quickly discovered that there wasn’t a whole lot of light inside the museum.  But I did the best I could with my little Fuji FinePix 401 point-and-shoot camera. 





Most of the cars were from the pre-war era.  But a few late-models could be found scattered about the displays.  The "surprises" I mentioned above were located on the floors below the museum where Carney recreated turn of the century Rolla that featured authentic storefronts and a town square from the early 1900s.  The actual restoration shop occupied the floor below the town recreation.  We'll get to those things later.  But first, enjoy a walk through the museum .  .  .
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2014, 02:03:19 AM »

On with the tour .  .  .
The Maxwell-Briscoe Company began manufacturing automobiles in 1904 in Tarrytown, New York.  Sales were quite strong for a while.  But like so many other WWI-era upstarts, the company wound up in debt and struggling.  Maxwell became part of Walter P. Chrysler's empire in 1921, effectively making it the first Chrysler product produced.  But the car line was phased out in 1925 after the actual Chrysler Corporation was established.


1908 Maxwell






The story of the Paige automobile company of Detroit, Michigan follows that of Maxwell above.  Automobile production began in 1908.  The Graham Brothers bought the company in 1927 and renamed it Graham-Paige.  The Paige car line was phased out immediately thereafter even though the Graham-Paige corporate entity remained in place.  The company was acquired by Kaiser-Frazier just after WWII.


1917 Paige






Pierce Arrow was a maker of high-end luxury cars founded in 1901.  They were known for their exceptional quality and were commonly purchased by celebrities and heads of state, (President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce Arrows for the White House).  This lead to Pierce Arrow earning the title,  “One of the Three P’s of Motordom” (along with Peerless and Packard).  Molding the headlamps into the front fenders was a landmark styling innovation for the era.


1925 Pierce Arrow






I don’t know the exact year of this Austin-Healey Sprite Mk II.  But that model was produced from 1961-1964.  The Sprite, and its badge-engineered cousin the MG Midget, were rudimentary sports cars in every sense of the word.  The limited space, oxcart ride, and lack of any creature comforts whatsoever was also accompanied by a reputation for being notoriously fun.  The bare-bones Sprite looks completely out of place next to a Pierce Arrow.  


Austin-Healey Sprite Mk II Roadster






LaSalle was established in 1927 specifically to fill a price gap in the General Motors product line.  The 5 GM divisions of that time were targeted at specific price points.  Chevrolet represented the entry level, followed upward by Oakland, Oldsmobile, Buick, and finally Cadillac at the top of the food chain.  As price gaps began to develop between the divisions, GM President Alfred P. Sloan created the “Companion Make” concept.  All divisions but Chevrolet would receive a “companion” make that would be sold through the existing dealership network.  The price gap between Chevrolet and Oakland was filled by Pontiac which was sold through Oakland dealers.  Oldsmobile received Viking, Buick received Marquette, and Cadillac received LaSalle.  Think of this as the forerunner to the Honda/Acura or Toyota/Lexus arrangement.  Pontiac was the only companion make that succeeded, eventually putting its companion Oakland out of business.  Marquette lasted a single model year (1930), Viking lasted 3 years (1929-31), and LaSalle lasted through 1940.


1932 LaSalle






Stutz began life in 1911 as the Ideal Motor Car Company founded by Harry C. Stutz who, shortly thereafter, changed the company name to the Stutz Motor Company.  These cars quickly gained a reputation for being fast and powerful sporting cars.  This resulted in Stutz enjoying quite a bit of success in the world of racing including an 11th place finish in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 of 1911, and a 2nd place finish at Le Mans in 1928.  Stutz also set several land speed records during the company’s relatively short lifespan (1911 – 1935).


1926 Stutz
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2014, 01:52:51 AM »

The Essex Motor Company was actually a wholly owned subsidiary of Hudson.  Production began in 1919 when Hudson debuted the new line specifically aimed at the average family.  In an era when a "closed" passenger compartment usually indicated a specialty upscale car, (such as a town car or formal limousine), Essex is credited with initiating the trend toward enclosed sedans that were affordable to most.  The story of the actual name of the car reads like an automotive version of Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First."  The Essex Motor Company was actually an entry level division of the Hudson Motor Car Company.  The Essex company name was dropped in 1922.  But the car's name and marketing strategy remained unchanged, (i.e. an economically priced Hudson).  In 1932, Essex introduced a new model called the Terraplane, (which is a play on the word "airplane").  The Terraplane was so successful that Hudson execs phased out the Essex name altogether renaming the division "Terraplane."  By 1938, the Terraplane division was absorbed into Hudson entirely when the car was marketed as the "Hudson Terraplane."  Got it ?

   
1931 Essex






The Ford Model T is one of the most recognized cars in the history of motorized transport.  Before the Model T, an automobile was regarded as an expensive toy for the wealthy.  Henry Ford's goal was to produce a car that the average individual could afford.  He accomplished this through numerous innovations in mass production and assembly efficiency.  As production methods became more and more efficient, Ford passed the savings on to his customers by lowering the price of the car, (from $825 in 1908 to as little as $260 in 1925).  From 1908 - 1927, 15 million "Tin Lizzies" were sold, thus earning the Model T the reputation as the car that put America on wheels. 


1926 Ford Model T






Pontiac got its start in 1926 as one of GM's Companion Makes introduced during that era.  It was specifically created to fill the price gap between price leader Chevrolet and next tier Oakland.  I mentioned above that of the four "Companion Makes" introduced by GM in this era, (Pontiac, Viking, Marquette, and LaSalle), Pontiac was the only one that survived more than a few years.  While the other companion strategies never really worked as intended, Pontiac's actually worked too well.   In its first year of production, Pontiac outsold "parent" Oakland and never looked back.  By 1931, Oakland was history.


1926 Pontiac






David Dunbar Buick founded the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company in 1899 as an agricultural engine manufacturer.  This became the Buick Motor Company in 1903 when Buick began to explore the idea of building a complete car.  The first car of Buick's own design went on sale in 1904.  Buick became part of the General Motors Holding Company in 1908, (i.e. the birth of General Motors).  Currently, Buick is the oldest active North American automotive brand.  David Dunbar Buick is also credited with developing the Overhead Valve (OHV) engine design in 1902.


1910 Buick
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2014, 01:26:59 AM »

Cadillac offered 4 models in 1907.  The Model K and Model M were powered by a 1.6L single-cylinder engine that made 10 hp.  The Model G and Model H were powered by a 3.7L 4-cylinder engine that made 30 hp, which was a lot in that era.   


1907 Cadillac



The display clearly identified this car as a 1907 single-cylinder model.  But I'm having trouble identifying the exact model.  As near as I can determine, this car is a Model K "Runabout."  But I'm not entirely sure.





The information I find in the Cadillac Database does not show a running board on the Model K in 1907.  The 1908 Model K had a running board.  But the shape of the hood and grill were different for that year.  I'm also seeing photos of a Model M with this style runabout body. 





All I know is that this is an extremely rare car !  It also appears to have been beautifully restored.





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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2014, 09:37:52 PM »

Fast forward 70 years to 1976.  By this time, the single-cylinder power plant had added 7 more cylinders and grown a bit in size to 500 cubic inches.  Slowing sales coupled with the threat of government regulations had put an end to convertible production in the US.  The Cadillac Eldorado was to be "the last convertible."  Thankfully, it wasn't.  The 1976 Eldorado Convertible is one of my all-time favorites.  I would own one of these in a heartbeat !


1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible



This particular car belongs to actress Donna Douglas, who portrayed Elly May Clampett on the Beverly Hillbillies TV series.  Douglas and Memoryville founder George Carney were classmates in school.








Twins Francis and Freelan Stanley began building cars in 1897 after getting out of the photographic dry plate business.  After a run of about 200 cars, (which was A LOT in those days), the brothers founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company in 1902.  A Stanley was unique in that it utilized steam power.  Later examples of the "Stanley Steamer" featured a somewhat exaggerated hood line to accommodate the steam boiler within.  A Stanley was fast and durable.  But rapid progression in conventional gasoline engine technology quickly made the steam car obsolete.  Francis died in 1918.  Automobile production ended in 1924.  Freelan went on to establish the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, (i.e. The Shining).


1917 Stanley Steamer






Bentley replaced its Mark VI saloon in 1952 with the Type R.  Think of the Type R as the intermediary between the "traditional" Roller/Bentley styling from the WWII era and the "contemporary" body that lasted through the Millennium.


1953 Bentley



This particular car was right-hand drive.


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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 12:34:40 AM »

This 1964 Bentley S3 would be what I referred to above as the "contemporary" body style.  The instantly recognizable quad headlamps and upright grill would remain in place for the next 40 years.


1964 Bentley S3



By this time, Bentley had made the switch from a 4.9L inline 6-cylinder engine to a 6.2L V-8.  I love the color on this car !








Speaking of instantly recognizable, the first generation Ford Mustang went on sale on April 17, 1964.  By the close of business on that day, more than 22,000 had been sold.  Its success was due in part to the fact that it could be equipped as an inexpensive economically oriented 4-seater to a race car with a license plate and everything in between.  Its sensible size, light weight, and flexibility made it an instant hit with buyers. 


1965 Ford Mustang






Claude Cox founded the Overland Automobile Company in 1903 in Terre Haute, Indiana.  In 1908, the company was acquired by John North Willys and renamed Willys-Overland four years later.  Willys acquired a bunch of automobile-oriented companies around that time including Sterns-Knight, Canada's Russell Motor Car Company, and the Electric Auto-Lite Company, (i.e. Autolite).  And all was well until just after WWI when the company found itself deep in debt.  A few liquidations later, Willys-Overland was still manufacturing automobiles, but was by no means "healthy."  The Overland line was phased out in 1926 in favor of the Whippet line of smaller cars, (which, itself, would be gone by 1931).

 
Overland police car






The Nash Motors Company originated in 1916 when Charles W. Nash, a former president of General Motors, bought the Thomas B. Jeffery Company, (who manufactured the Jeffery and Rambler automobiles), and renamed it Nash Motors.  In what sounds like a rather strange merger, the Nash automobile company combined with the Kelvinator Appliance Company to form Nash-Kelvinator in 1937.  The Nash automobile division would continue production until 1957 when it acquired Hudson to create American Motors.


1929(?) Nash






Pontiac introduced the full-sized Torpedo in 1940.  The car was based on the GM C-Body platform, (shared with the Cadillac Series 60 Special, Oldsmobile Series 90, and Buick Roadmaster/Super).  This was the beginning of a "longer, lower, wider" styling trend that placed an emphasis on interior space.  Also of note was the elimination of exterior running boards.  When automobile production resumed in 1946 after WWII, the Torpedo was, essentially, a pre-war car with a few small styling updates.  It would be replaced by the all-new Chieftain in 1949.


1948 Pontiac Torpedo DeLuxe Convertible
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 02:09:20 AM »

Louis Kissel and sons George and William founded the Kissel Motor Car Company in 1906.  The company produced a line of cars, but also marketed a line of medium duty trucks (up to 5-tons), utility vehicles, fire trucks, and other professional vehicles.  Like so many pre-WWI manufacturers, the company did quite well initially and produced some high quality products.  But it was unable to survive in the wake of the Great Depression.  Around 35,000 "KisselKars" were produced before the company went under in 1930.


1929 Kissel






Ferry Porsche favored the idea of a well balanced lightweight car with a decent amount of power over a larger heavier car that was "overpowered."  The 356, considered to be Porsche's first production car, followed this philosophy by offering up to 115 hp that only needed to move around 2,000 pounds.  The car buying public also liked this idea and purchased more than 76,000 of them from 1948 - 65.  It was also a hit on the race track with wins at Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, and the Targa Florio which also helped to boost sales.  I'm not sure of the exact year of this particular car.  But the front end suggests either a 356B or 356C.


Porsche 356






Along with the police car shown earlier, this 1917 Overland was also on display.  This was from the time when sales were strong for Overland, (they were the number 2 auto producer behind Ford), but the mountain of debt was growing larger and larger.


1917 Overland
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 01:08:24 AM »

Nash produced 32,017 cars in 1938 in three trim levels.  The entry-level Lafayette was available in 8 different body styles.  The mid-level Ambassador Six was a 6-cylinder model available in 5 different body styles.  The upper-level Ambassador Eight was powered by an inline 8-cylinder engine.  The side trim on this particular car identifies it as a Lafayette.  The body configuration suggests a Business Coupe.


1938 Nash



This car was owned by radio legend Paul Harvey.  It was reported to be the car Paul's wife, Lynne "Angel" Cooper Harvey (also a radio legend and pioneer), was driving when the two met. 








The legendary Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost  -  i.e. "The Best Car in the World" as proclaimed by Autocar Magazine in 1907  -  was succeeded by the Phantom series beginning in 1925.  The Phantom I and Phantom II were powered by a 7.7L inline 6-cylinder engine.  When the Phantom III arrived in 1935, buyers found a 7.3L V-12 under the enormous hood, the first V-configuration engine for Rolls-Royce.   


1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III



The Phantom III was HUGE !   The chassis alone weighed 4,000 pounds.  Depending on what custom coachbuilt body the buyer wanted, this car could tip the scales at more than 7,500 pounds.  A total of 710 Phantom IIIs were built between 1936 - 1939.


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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2014, 12:29:57 AM »

Studebaker is one of those auto makers whose accounting books must read like a roller coaster.  Some years were really good, like 1930 when Studebaker sold more than 123,000 vehicles, good enough for 4th place in the industry.  But just 2 years later in 1932, production would be down by almost 80% to around 26,000 vehicles.  The following year, 1933, production would be cut in half again to less than 13,000 vehicles.  Looking to stay above water, Studebaker introduced the entry level Champion in 1939 which proved to be a hit with buyers.  Almost 34,000 were sold which lifted total output for that year to almost 86,000 vehicles.  Buyers liked the Champion because it had more power than its 6-cylinder Ford competition and enjoyed a 200 pound weight advantage.  The Champion proved to be a great seller with another 66,000 sold in 1940, and almost 85,000 sold in 1941. 


1940 Studebaker Champion






This beautiful 1920 Buick and first generation Ford F-Series truck signaled the end of the tour of this level of the museum.  It was now time to head downstairs .  .  .


1920 Buick and Ford F3 pickup
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2014, 02:41:42 PM »

Memoryville, USA .  .  .
I don't remember the exact layout of the building any more, (hard to believe it's been a decade since these pics were taken !).  But my memory is one of wandering around the antique cars, walking past the various items and displays, and arriving at a set of stairs that lead downward.  This antique telephone switchboard sat next to the first set of stairs.





The first stop on that journey took me through a replica of Old Towne Rolla which George called "Memoryville USA."  





Memoryville USA is a scaled down replica of turn-of-the-century Rolla.  George used actual Rolla business names from that time period, authentic storefronts, and salvaged pieces of the original buildings.





Unfortunately, the darkness would work against me and my camera.  But hopefully, you'll get the idea.





At the bottom of the stairs stood The Toy Shoppe.








George Carney was a student in art school when he met an aspiring actress named Donna Douglas.  Their careers eventually took them in different directions.  But they remained life-long friends.  George included a Beverly Hillbillies storefront as a tribute to her.





I passed by a doctor's office and "Women's Furnishings" store.  Of note is the sign on the doctor's office door that indicated Dr. Rowe was also a veterinarian and dentist.





I saw the "Women's Furnishings" sign and found it odd that women had furniture dedicated specifically to them.  But I quickly realized that this must be an old term for a women's clothing store.





The Hotel El Caney was owned by George's father.





I couldn't go in any of the "buildings."  But I did manage to snap a few pics through the gates.





I would like to say that the items shown inside the hotel display were actually from the hotel.  But I'm not 100 percent sure.


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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2014, 11:45:42 AM »

George's grandfather owned the general store in Rolla back in the day.





The inside was filled with bits and pieces of the original store.








Scott's Drug Store.








The Photography Shop was advertising "3 week service."





Lining the "street" in between the storefronts was a line of "traffic" as it would have appeared in the early 20th century.








I don't know any of the specifics regarding the buggies and carts.  George had a little bit of everything thrown into the mix.





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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2014, 11:32:53 PM »

There must have been a Boat Merchant in town in those days.  Boating is extremely popular today in central Missouri because of the Lake of the Ozarks which was created in 1931.  Don't know where the boating hot spot was before that. 





Looks like the banker will be back in a couple of hours.





And the Barber Shop was also closed.





It's a shame, because I really wanted to have a few teeth pulled.





I wonder which one of these is the teeth puller.  Looks pretty scary.


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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2014, 11:08:30 PM »

I passed a few more displays as I "headed out of town."  I'm not sure what any of this stuff is any more.  But I do see Carbondale, PA on the right.  





I have this picture labeled as "Gauges for an Ice Machine" from the F. W. Wolf Company in Chicago.





I came to another set of stairs directing me toward the restoration shop.





The movie theater was on this level.





"Motion Pictures" would have been a relatively new invention in those days.  The old movie projector was cool !





State-of-the-art audio/visual equipment from that time.





And of course, every town has to have a newspaper.  The Rolla New Era newspaper was originally called the Phelps County New Era newspaper until 1878 when the name was changed.


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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2014, 11:22:58 PM »

Another set of stairs took me further downward toward the restoration shop.





Sinclair is an old name in the world of gas stations.  I don't see very many of them any more, although I do remember a couple of them in Columbia, Missouri.  The Holsman Automobile Company produced rope drive vehicles from 1901 - 1910.  Very few of these cars exist today.





This Sinclair station proudly displayed the latest in tire technology from the new Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.





The Rolla Machine Shop was also on this level.





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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2014, 12:05:46 AM »

After the third set of stairs leading downward, I really began to wonder just how big this building was ! 





The Standard B "Liberty" Truck was a multi-purpose military vehicle designed and built by the Quartermaster Corps of the US Army with help from the Society of Automotive Engineers and a lot of volunteers from the automobile industry.  Emphasis was placed not only on durability, but also on the standardization of design and the use of interchangeable parts.  Power came from a 452 CID inline 4-cylinder engine that made 52 hp.  Production began in April 1918 and continued through the end of WWI.  For more information about the Liberty truck, check out this US Army Transportation Museum link.


1917 Liberty Truck



Check out the solid rubber Firestones !





For the firearms enthusiasts, there was a WWI-era machine gun mounted on the back of the Liberty truck.  I know nothing about firearms.  But this doesn't look like the most "portable" gun I have ever seen.  But it does look like it will take down just about anything in it's path.





There were a lot of antique machines on this level including these two pieces of early construction equipment.  This Ingersoll-Rand machine looks like a portable air compressor, but I'm not 100 percent sure.


 


This is a portable electric generator.





I'm guessing that this tractor wasn't designed for any kind of paved surface.





This safe reminds me of something that would be used in a bank for safe deposit boxes. 


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