Located in Canton, Ohio, the Canton Classic Car Museum showcases a variety of automobile industry memorabilia, including classic cars, historic photography, and vintage transportation-related toys. The building that now houses the Canton Classic Car Museum was constructed around the turn of the century by local resident George Monnot.
In 1914, following the construction of the nearby Lincoln Highway, Monnot converted the building into a 24-hour travel service stop serving cross-country drivers. After reaching out to car entrepreneur Henry Ford about the construction of a Ford Model T vehicle, Monnot’s travel service stop extended its operations to encompass a Ford Motors dealership, which eventually became the largest Ford dealership in the United States. In 1978, Monnot’s travel service stop and dealership were purchased by Marshall Belden, Sr. for the purposes of creating a museum dedicated to the history of the automobile industry. The Canton Classic Car Museum officially opened to the public later that year.
Permanent Collections and Attractions
Today, the Canton Classic Car Museum serves as a rest stop attraction and nostalgia museum along northern Ohio’s Lincoln Highway, displaying a wide variety of artifacts and memorabilia related to the automobile and transportation industries. Collections range from classic cars and steam engines to film posters, historic photography, and vintage model car and train toys. As a family museum, the Canton Classic Car Museum offers unique exhibits and attractions for visitors of all ages.
The museum’s classic car collection makes up the centerpiece of its collections, including a historic Holmes full-sized air-cooled car constructed in Canton between 1917 and 1922, which was advertised as “America’s Most Comfortable” passenger car at the time of its release. A 1962 Amphicar on display is a unique hybrid streetcar and convertible pleasure boat, while a 1957 BMW Isetta gained fame for its use on the 1990s television sitcom Family Matters. Other classic passenger cars on display include a 1901 curved-dash Oldsmobile, a 1911 Model T Ford, a 1966 Ford Mustang, and a 1970 Plymouth Super Bird. Specialty industrial and government cars on display include an original, unrestored 1937 Ahrens-Fox Quad fire truck, a 1937 Packard Hearse, and a 1937 Studebaker President Bulletproof police car.
A large collection of vintage model cars and toys are showcased, including collections of Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels cars, and one-of-a-kind creations. Vintage advertising is showcased, including artifacts connected to the automobile industry and popular product brands during the golden era of American highway driving. Collections of historic photography and film posters also focus on the 20th century, creating a nostalgic atmosphere of the cultural climate at the time of the implementation of the American highway system.
Local memorabilia and nostalgia items are also showcased, including several items preserved from the city’s former Meyer’s Lake Park amusement park. Though the history of the amusement park dates back to the 1880s, the park is best remembered for its 20th-century historic atmosphere created after it was purchased by local entrepreneur George Sinclair in the 1920s. During its heyday, the park’s ballroom was host to a number of noted regional and national entertainers and was a prominent recreation spot in the northern Ohio community. Though the park closed in 1974, several of its rides are still in operation at other facilities, including a historic carousel transferred to Hartford, Connecticut. Items on display at the museum from the park include an antique Fortune Teller and a Monkey Band.
Memorabilia and ephemera connected to the social climate of the 20th century is also displayed, including political memorabilia connected to the Canton area, such as a portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt printed on a typewriter by an Ohio State Penitentiary inmate in 1941. A Canton Room contains thousands of pieces of memorabilia connected to the city’s history, including items connected to President William McKinley, who was born in the region. An Oriental Room showcases items connected to Asian cultures, including a collection of oriental rugs, while a variety of unique non-automobile-related items are scattered throughout the museum’s collections, including a historic moving thermometer. A large gift shop sells a wide variety of automobile-related items, including model cars, apparel, and children’s toys.
Programming and Outreach
The museum participates in a number of local and regional automobile-related events and competitions and partners with local community organizations. In 2018, the museum’s 1937 Studebaker President bulletproof police car was awarded the This Car Matters award at the annual Elegance at Hershey, one of the nation’s top 10 annual car shows. The museum’s director, Char Lautzenheiser, is a noted local philanthropist and public speaker, working with Canton businesses and organizations such as the University of Mount Union’s Continued Learning Program.
123 6th St SW, Canton, OH, Phone: 330-455-3603