Nancy DeWitt

Walt Meyer Auto Museum?

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I recently learned that our 1914 Henderson once resided in a Bridgewater, NY museum owned by a man named Walter Meyer. Does anyone remember that museum and/or Mr. Meyer?

Of course, if anyone has a photo of our Henderson in his museum we'd be very interested in seeing it!

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Nancy, we have a postcard & a simple information brochure but it does not list the collection or mention your vehicle. :( If you want copies let me know.

-Chris

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The Bridgewater Museum was dismantled in the early 1990s after Meyer's death. I bought a 1933 Franklin from Mrs. Meyers in 1992. By then the building was mostly cleaned out. There were some very interesting cars in that museum.

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Nancy:

If you can get a copy of Horseless Carriage Gazette 52 #6, there is an article by Joe Whitney about two cars he got from the museum. The Henderson is not mentioned, but the story about "the chase" is a good read.

Bob Mcanlis

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The Horseless Carriage Gazette article talks primarily about the two cars Mr. Whitney purchased via a lead he got at the Hershey Fall meet several years ago. The cars are a 1904 Buckmobile and a 1909 Mora.

I was fortunate to be able to purchase the Mora discussed in the article from Mr. Whitney back in 2005. After doing considerable research I learned that the car is in fact a 1908.

The photos below show the car as it looks today (an unrestored, HPOF certified car), as it appeared in the museum, a postcard of the car from the museum, and Mr. Meyer with the car in the 1950's.

Sorry, I don't have anything about your Henderson while it was there, but a lot of people visited the museum over the years, so I'll bet someone has a picture of it while it was in Bridgewater.

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I was actually in that museum back in the early 80's and have some pictures somewhere. It was difficult because the cars were all behind chicken wire stalls and were all very dusty. However they were all old cars and not a muscle car in the lot(thank God). I was sorry to hear of the museums demise. The town of Bridgewater should have found a way to keep the place going and made it a tourist attraction of it.

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Mr Meyer was primarily interested in New York state built cars,and His museum consisted mostly of these cars. The Mora,Buckmobile,many Franklins, a Chase and Maxwell were amongst many other early NY autos. One of note is the Brownell built in Rochester NY and believed to be the only one in existence. This car I researched for the present owner. Brownell was an engine builder extraordinaire as he went on to build the world famous Rochester-Duesenberg engines. Nancy, somewhere's I have a listing of the cars in the Bridgewater collection if I can locate?? it, I will most certainly forward a copy to you if found.--Bob

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An interesting development to this old thread: our museum just purchased the 1904 Buckmobile that resided in the Bridgewater Museum and was restored by Joe Whitney. I wouldn't have guessed it had a connection to our Henderson! --Nancy

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Nancy - Just a few notes about Walt Meyer and his museum in Bridgewater, NY. Most of the cars he had were found in barns and garages in the upstate NY area. As I remember, he had a business wiring barns in the thirties and after the war, and would bring the cars he was able to buy to his building in Bridgewater. He once told me that back then, they didn't cost much to purchase. He never really had restored cars in the museum, mostly they were as he found them, but he had some unusual stuff. I remember motorcycles, but not your Henderson in particular. The Franklin Trek in August often went to his museum to visit, but the cars were dispersed after his death, and the building then supported a used car lot for a while. The property has been vacant for the last few years and looks pretty run down, as does most of the town of Bridgewater which probably is why the town was unable to retain the museum.

Edited by NeilS
correct grammer (see edit history)

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Nancy - Just a few notes about Walt Meyer and his museum in Bridgewater, NY. Most of the cars he had were found in barns and garages in the upstate NY area. As I remember, he had a business wiring barns in the thirties and after the war, and would bring the cars he was able to buy to his building in Bridgewater. He once told me that back then, they didn't cost much to purchase. He never really had restored cars in the museum, mostly they were as he found them, but he had some unusual stuff. I remember motorcycles, but not your Henderson in particular. The Franklin Trek in August often went to his museum to visit, but the cars were dispersed after his death, and the building then supported a used car lot for a while. The property has been vacant for the last few years and looks pretty run down, as does most of the town of Bridgewater which probably is why the town was unable to retain the museum.

The Henderson referred to in this thread is the car pictured in the attachment, not a motorcycle, although they were built by the same family. Henderson only built cars in 1912-14. Like many other aspiring manufacturers they suffered from a lack of working capital.

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Neil, thanks for the info. There sure were a lot of great museums that went defunct, but we're delighted to have cars from the likes of Walt Meyers and Austie Clark in ours. We drive all but a few of our autos, and the Buckmobile looks like a fun one. The Henderson (yep, it's a car) still needs some work, but hopefully we'll get to work on it soon. - Nancy

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Nancy, If nobody has asked before, who picks the cars in your collection? Everyone is a winner, is there a plan involved or does someone just really have a good eye for cars?

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It's been a team effort by the museum owner Tim Cerny, manager Willy Vinton and admin assistant Derik Price. Almost every car was selected because it exemplifies a significant or unusual development in American automotive technology or design--and we prefer cars that can still be driven. Several were chosen because they either are among, or represent, the earliest automobiles in Alaska (Sheldon, White Steamer, Chalmers-Detroit, Franklin). Which reminds me, we're still looking for Thomas Flyer, Pope-Toledo and Pierce Great Arrow... A Duesenberg would also round out the collection nicely, in case anyone out there would like to sell theirs to our museum. Darn things keep going for too much at auction!

Edited by Nancy DeWitt (see edit history)

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I visited Fountainhead and wanted to camp out inside their wonderful museum. I highly recommend a visit there to any car people. In reality, one can camp out within the complex which is definately the hospitality industry. It is truly a stunning collection. Great choices indeed!

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greetings:

the bridgewater auto museum was started just after the second world war by walt myers, howard fenton, frank mumbalo and a few others. the idea was not to present cars in brand new like condition but instead to just save those that hadn't been scrapped during the war effort. cars were found in barns, garages, wood lots and where ever they could be found. walt would take them in and try to make them "look good" so people would be able to see them. the cars were not restored as we think of it. there was a case touring that had sat behind a barn here in bridgewater. when walt got the car there were rust holes in the splash aprons and other areas. his solution was to take cardboard and cover the back side of the holes, then fill the holes with plaster of paris. it was easy to work with and at a distance who would know. of course you didn't want to get the car wet. if parts were missing that would make the car look incomplete walt wasn't above making the part out of wood and painting it to look right. the admission to the museum was one dollar, 96 cents to walt and 4 cents to the state. the admission was good for the whole season. as you can see walt wasn't in it for the money. he loved to talk with folks and talk he could do. no matter how many times i went to the museum there was always something that i hadn't seen before. walt never had much money so cars had to be cheap if walt was to buy them. he told me of a car that he went to look at that was rope driven. it was all there but the folks wanted $50 for it and walt felt that was to much so he passed on it. there were many cars in the museum that were stored there by their owners. when walt became ill and couldn't run the museum any more his wife ran it one summer and she raised the price to $2 and walt was furious over that. when walt died the cars were sold and went all over the place. there was no auction only private cash sales. the building is still standing and is now a bar. i can't really recall your car but you would have to realize that the cars were packed in as tight as they could be. in some parts of the building the cars were two and three deep behind chicken wire so visibility wasn't always the best. there are those who would criticize the way that the museum was run and the cars maintained but the fact is that walt was saving these cars at a time when most were just junking them or letting them rot down in the back somewhere. i'm sure that if it hadn't been for walt and guys like him folks like you and i wouldn't have the cars that they we love today. i hope this gives you a little idea of where your car spent part of its life. doug

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Nancy: Just stumbled on your request of a few years ago. I hoped I had a the requested shots from our visit to the Bridgewater Museum back in August, 1971. But, alas, only have a smattering, and the Henderson, is not among the slides. (I seem to recall the film in that camera jamming frequently; naturally this would be the moment!) Despite the chicken wire, my compulsive nature would likely have included same, but all I have (that is inclusive) is a list of the cars displayed on that day (including the Hendersons: "1913" and "1916," the latter likely being a 4 cyl. motorcycle. (And to think I spent 4 years in school not more than 15 miles away! The brass era bug had not caught me then!) If the listing would be of interest, can forward same.

Has the Fountainhead Museum published hard copy postcards of the e-postcard images on your website?

So glad your collection has become the home of some of J. Parker Wickham's beauties. Yet, when I thought them far away at the tip of LOng Island, I had no idea they would ever move that far away! Best regards, Conway in Maine

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Conway, thank you for checking your slides for our Henderson. I would indeed be interested in a list of the cars you saw. You can e-mail it to me a projectsATfdifairbanks.com.

We don't have print versions of those particular e-cards. We have a number of printed postcards for sale, although our museum book is a more cost-effective purchase if you want a lot of photos. However, the 1904 Buckmobile and 1928 Pierce-Arrow in the e-cards are not in the book (nor is the Henderson). If you need one of those photos, I'd be happy to send it via e-mail.

Cheers,

Nancy

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Greetings to everyone! I just registered for this website. As a charter member of the Algonquin Antique Auto Club (now the Algonquin Region AACA based in Sidney, New York, founded in 1978), I was saddened to learn of the demise of the Walt Meyer Auto Museum. Sometime in the late 1970's, we toured as a group with our old cars from Sidney to Bridgewater to visit the museum and in particular, were interested to see the Hatfield Auto which was on display there. The Hatfield was assembled in Sidney, New York, in [i believe] the 1920's; the car on display there was a sedan, and to the best of my knowledge, was the ONLY Hatfield to remain in existence. If anyone out there knows of the whereabouts of this car, I would appreciate knowing; I no longer belong to the club, having moved out of the area, but I would love to be able to pass this information along to the remaining members. Looking forward to any and all replies to this thresd. :)

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Just as a follow up from my October 2012 post, I MIGHT have some pictures of the Algonquin Club members and cars parked in the lot of the Museum, maybe even a shot while were were on route (I was bringing up the rear in my 1942 Buick Special because of the smoke from the exhaust!!!). I am looking in boxes this weekend.

John

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Hello Nancy

Was your Henderson ever converted to a truck? If so it may have been in another NY museum not that far away. I know of another roadster near identical to yours, wire wheels and all. The gas fill through the dash is an interesting feature.

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