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Western Pennsylvania is sprinkled with dozens of unique attractions, many of which preserve the past for people to savor treasured experiences. Visiting these sites is a perfect way to understand and appreciate the character and mood of earlier times.
Here are 2 niche, nostalgia-filled museums in southwest Pennsylvania to add to your bucket list.
Jimmy Stewart Museum
835 Philadelphia St, Indiana, PA
$10.00 Adults, $9.00 seniors/students, $8.00 children
Admission fee includes entrance to the daily 1:00 p.m. matinee show of one of the 80 movies Jimmy starred in.
Few contemporary television and film stars can expect to have a museum in their hometown dedicated to the story of their life and career.
But Jimmy Stewart was not only one of the most recognizable film stars of his time because of the length of his career, spanning 55 years. Before and during his acting career, he served in WWII and Vietnam. He also starred in some legendary films, namely It’s A Wonderful Life, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and worked with legendary directors, including Alfred Hitchcock.
The museum’s holiday exhibit, centered around It’s A Wonderful Life, is running through the end of January 2021.
His film career took off in the 1930’s when Hollywood movies were fewer in number than today at a time when film stars were seen as gods by the adoring public.
But Stewart never let his fame goe to his head. He was expressly proud of his humble roots from smalltown Indiana, PA and residents were proud to call him their own, naming an airport in his honor in 1959 and hosting a 3 day celebration for his 75th birthday in 1983.
Every November on the Friday before Thanksgiving the town holds an “It’s a Wonderful Life” festival.
The museum naturally dedicates considerable space to his Hollywood Life. But it also has a replica of his childhood bedroom, his home office in California, and highlights of his status as a WWII war hero and family man.
The modest $10 admission fee also includes daily 1 p.m. screenings of Stewart’s films in the vintage 50-seat cinema.
Ron’s Antique Radios & 50’s Place Mini Museum
5719 Lincoln Highway, Mann’s Choice, PA
No admission fee but donations are welcome. Advance reservations are preferred by calling 814-623-3887 to let them know you’re coming.
While many of us try to restrain our non-stop use of modern technology, this tiny family-owned and operated museum serves as a nostalgic reminder of simpler times.
The museum is housed in a single-story building outfitted to look like a campground log cabin. Inside there’s huge variety of vintage radios and televisions. Most are in working condition and the proprietors will happily turn them on so visitors can experience the sound and other features.
This museum was created as a labor of love by the recently deceased, Ron Miller, a retired owner of TV and appliance business. He passed away in October 2020 but his wife, Donna Miller and step daughter, Chris Woy, are keeping the museum going in his memory.
Before the Coronavirus brought international travel to a standstill, the museum attracted visitors from around the world!
For lovers of antique radio’s and televisions, this is a fascinating place to explore and see how electronic appliances evolved over the decades.
One visitor claims a visit here is a bit like stepping into an episode of Mike Wolfe’s American Pickers show on the History Channel. Visitors expecting to pop in for a short 20 minutes spell are often surprised they end up sticking around for an hour or two marveling at the old fashioned designs and chatting with the owners.
In addition to running a TV/electronics store, Ron was a keen restorer of vintage automobiles for a few decades. Which explains why the property also displays a replica of two 1950’s gas pumps and the once universal 20th century phone booth. Not surprisingly, many visitors drive up in vintage vehicles.
Either of these attractions is worthy of a weekend afternoon. Enjoy your trip!