The Golden Age of Trucking Museum in Middlebury, Conn., will be closing to the public on July 20. Kathleen Jones, Director of the Museum, made the announcement this afternoon. She cited financial difficulties as the reason for the closure.
Jones also noted in her brief press release that their Cruise Night will be held according to schedule beginning at 5 p.m. on July 20. The Museum will close at 8 p.m. at the conclusion of the cruise.
According to the Museum's website (www.goldenagetruckmuseum.com) The Golden Age of Trucking Museum, Inc. was founded by Richard J. Guerrera in July of 1998. At that time, Guerrera was the owner of R.J. Guerrera, Inc., a liquid transportation trucking company with its headquarters located in Naugatuck, Connecticut. "When his trucking business became successful, Mr. Guerrera began collecting and restoring antique trucks.
He had the antiques stored in barns and garages all over Connecticut and had not ever seen the trucks “all in one place”. In 1998, Guerrera incorporated The Golden Age of Trucking Museum, Inc. as a non-profit organization with the mission statement... To educate the public, and to preserve and exhibit the history of the American truck transportation with a special emphasis on the 1950’s Golden Age of Trucking. He then set out to find a location for the museum. He went to officials in Naugatuck, Hartford, and Waterbury and at the Naugatuck Railroad to find property. He discovered that property on Southford Road in Middlebury was for sale. Interestingly, when Mr. Guerrera first started RJ Guerrera, Inc., it was located just down the road from the Southford Road location on Kissewaug Road. He had moved to Naugatuck after the Middlebury property had become too small to accommodate his growing business.
Because he was a Middlebury resident and had begun his trucking company in Middlebury this location seemed to be a perfect place for the truck museum. He bought the 16 acre parcel in July of 1998 and then began to get the proper town approval. Unfortunately, Mr. Guerrera was diagnosed with cancer soon after. As with every challenge he encountered, he continued on and looked to his wife, Frances, his family and trusted friends to help him continue his endeavor. The museum’s Board of Directors and Officers continued to meet and discuss plans and goals for the museum. As Mr. Guerrera became increasingly ill his family continued to care for him and let him know that the museum would become a reality. In June of 1999, five of the Guerrera antiques were driven to Southford Road. An ambulance transported an ailing Mr. Guerrera to the lot and the family held an un-official groundbreaking. A month later, Mr. Guerrera’s battle with cancer ended.
On September 23, 2002, a ribbon-cutting and reception was held to celebrate the opening of the museum. ?
Update: When contacted July 9, Kathleen Jones, Director of the Museum, said there is still some hope that a solution will be found, but a $100,000 fund raising campaign started in 2009 fell flat, and so far only $20,000 has been raised. The money is needed for general operations, primarily utility expenses. The museum had been relying on admission fees, facility rentals and donations for income, but with a downturn in the economy came a downturn in income.
The Golden Age of Trucking Museum, Inc., was founded by Jones’ father, Richard J. Guerrera.
Since the announcement of the pending closure Jones said the museum has had 'lots of crying people visit, especially the kids. One family has been a member for 8 years. They came over as soon as they heard, and they were all here crying. We have some members who come every week. They’ll miss us, and I’ll miss them.”
Within days one New Hampshire businessman stepped up to offer assistance in hopes that a partnership of businesses in the trucking industry would join the effort.
Assistance can be directed to Kathleen Jones, Director, The Golden Age of Trucking Museum, Inc., 1101 Southford Rd., PO Box 1314, Middlebury, CT, 06762; phone: 203-577-2181; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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