See dozens of vintage cars on display at the Garage this weekend in Salina
Just over a week after being used to advertise Jay Leno’s upcoming visit to Salina, The Garage held its grand opening on Thursday.
People from Salina, the Midwest and across the country visited the automobile museum after the noon dedication ceremony at the 134 S. Fourth St. building.
Salina representatives, including Mayor Trent Davis, spoke at the event. The mayor said when city funding was requested by museum stakeholders, there was skepticism about turning this grand facility into something like he saw on Thursday.
“We had to be aware that the approved projects would be the ones that would bring in tourism,” Davis said.
He said the idea of a car museum might appeal to enthusiasts who are in town for a basketball game anyway or their child’s baseball event at The Yard next door, but after being entered the building on Thursday, Davis was sold as an experiment.
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“The (kids) won’t even want to go play basketball or baseball; they’ll want to come here,” Davis said.
Davis also said that this attraction, located near downtown Salina, will hopefully encourage people to spend money in shops and restaurants.
Eric Brown, president and CEO of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, said more than 20,000 vehicles pass through Salina every day, and he hopes this will be another reason for people to leave the freeways. 70 and 135 and stop in the city.
Brown said he also hopes people will find their way to Salina and that community members will invite others from outside the community to that town.
“Salina is no longer the same Salina it was five years ago,” he said.
The garage was a project in the making for years
Tom Pestinger, Chairman of The Garage, said he was delighted with the day.
“We’ve been working on this for eight years, and all of a sudden it’s become a reality,” Pestinger said.
Pestinger said it was not just one person or even a small group of people who made this possible, but an effort of several people in the community and even across the country who worked for years, whether they realized it or not, for it to happen. .
“We didn’t have to pay for transportation (to get the cars here),” Pestinger said. “People bring them here and pick them up.”
Even the 1929 Deusenberg Model J, with less than 500 examples ever made and described by Pestinger for a value of $2 million, came from St. Louis without The Garage having to pay to bring it to Salina.
While cars are obviously the museum’s main attraction, other smaller artifacts have just as much of an impact on many people in the community.
“A lot of the panels and everything you see in them is what people have had in their garages for years,” Pestinger said.
A blue-lit Chevrolet sign, for example, sat in a garage for 20 years.
“It’s amazing the people who donated signs,” Pestinger said.
Even with a role as chairman of the board, Pestinger said he had done things over the past two years to get to this place, to clean and prepare this building, to work until the last moment to ensure that everything was ready.
“Yesterday I washed the windows and the front doors and everything and scrubbed the whole floor,” Pestinger said.
Work with community and regional partners
In addition to showcasing cars from Salina and beyond, The Garage also partners with organizations to promote opportunity and education.
This is particularly evident with McPherson College’s Automotive Restoration Technology program, the only such program in the United States.
The garage hired two graduates, Calvin Cassida as director of vehicles and Matthew Miller-Wells as director of education for the McPherson College program. The museum also displays two college vehicles, a 1917 Willys-Knight 88-4 Touring and a replica of the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen No. 1, the first automobile produced.
Cassida and Miller-Wells joined Amanda Gutierrez, the college’s vice president for automotive restoration, and other alumni, friends, and at least one current student of the program, in celebrating the milestone.
In addition to the two vehicles the school owns, faculty, alumni and a current student also have vehicles on display.
The Garage is now open on weekends
Thursday’s grand opening was an invitation-only event, but The Garage will be open to the public beginning Friday.
Michelle Peck, the museum’s executive director, said the garage will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
In addition to these weekend schedules for the public, The Garage will also be available for educational opportunities.
“We will be able to organize school groups and excursions throughout the week,” Peck said.
Admission is $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors, students, and the military, and free for children under three.
Additionally, VIP memberships, which include unlimited entry and other perks, are available for The Garage starting at $45 for individuals and higher for memberships of more than one person.
For more information, visit the Garage’s website, www.seama.org
This article originally appeared on Salina Journal: Salina’s The Garage Automotive Museum Opens Downtown This Weekend