“Everybody has a car story…what’s yours?” quizzed Tad duPont, President of the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels. He was right. My mind immediately went to that brown ‘73 Toyota Celica, my first car. I recalled the exhilarating sense of freedom when I first took those keys.
Visitors to the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels will have a chance to tell their car stories and see others, when the Museum officially opens sometime in 2016. The young nonprofit has completed the first two phases of work to create the new St. Michaels attraction, in spite of a few obstacles and U-turns.
Phase One secured the zoning and permitting to build the Museum on the site, and moved a large shed from one end of the lot to the other side. Phase Two took down the historic Pinkett House on Cherry St., donated by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Piece by piece, in pickup trucks, the volunteer group moved the Pinkett House to the Museum’s site on Marengo St. There, duPont and his team carefully reconstructed the house, re-assembling parts of it, and changing others to meet modern building codes for commercial structures.
“The Pinkett House reconstruction was done with a lot of help” duPont said. “Jim Moffett of Moffett Woodworks did a tremendous amount. He transformed old rafters of the house into kitchen cabinets, created a mantle out of the old 2nd floor joists, and made new doors out of the original sills.” Others helped too. Vince Hosey discounted his carpentry work, the Lumberyard in St. Michaels donated all of the paint, Lawrence Haley gave a firebox, Prospect Builders donated work for the ramp, Stan Hopkins installed the HVAC, and Dennis Evens contributed the silt fence.
The Pinkett House is significant in several respects – it’s a sister of the town’s Sewell House in St. Mary’s Square, as evidenced by 2 large pieces of sill found and displayed in the front yard. It’s also the previous home of the Pinkett family of St. Michaels, whose roots in St. Michaels and in the local automotive industry go deep.
Now the house is fully furnished and open for business as the Museum’s onsite office and welcome center. A grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday November 21st, including a parade with bands and floats. In the meantime, the building serves as the Museum’s home, until the 4800 Sq ft Exhibit Barn is built by Amish contractors in 2016.
The Museum’s Board of Directors has just begun a campaign to raise the $800,000 needed to build the barn and complete the site work necessary to open the Museum. “We’re shovel ready” said duPont, “once the funding is committed, it can be built as quickly as three months.”
The Museum will hold rotating exhibits of up to 20 classic cars at a time, but you can expect to see far more than that. Motorcycles, boat engines, trucks, agricultural equipment, trains – any motors are game for display and education at the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels.
The history of transportation on Delmarva will also appear in the Museum’s exhibits. You can expect to learn about how Indian trails turned into Underground Railroad pathways and form our region’s present-day rail and roadways. The group expects this new Museum to spur tourism, giving visitors one more reason to spend an extra night in Talbot’s inns and B&Bs, and eat, shop and play in St. Michaels for an extra day. “The return on the total one million dollar investment is going to be huge. This is an economic venue to feed St. Michaels for decades. Car clubs are already asking about having events here, and they’ll be doing it in the middle of the week – adding value to the local economy” said duPont.
Seminars, lectures, films, demonstrations, docent-led tours and special programs for kids and any motor enthusiasts will take place at the Museum, as well as themed events to correlate with regional activities.
The group is now reaching out to local classic automobile collectors, identifying collections and strategizing for the Museum’s first years of exhibits. They expect one third of the exhibited motors to change every six months, giving visitors plenty of reasons to return.
The public is welcome to visit the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels at 102 Marengo St. for the Grand Opening on November 21st, on facebook at www.facebook.com/Classic-Motor-Museum, or on the Museum’s website at www.classicmotormuseumstmichaels.org. Donations to build the Exhibit Barn are welcomed, and can be made directly from the “Donate Now” button at top right of the Museum’s website, by mail at PO Box 214, St. Michaels, MD 21663, or by calling 410-745-8979.