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Tourism bureau gets grant for Butler auto museum

With a $475,000 matching grant from the state, the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau is planning to build a museum to showcase cars made in Butler such as the 1909 Huselton, above. This car was on display at the Harmony Museum's 2021 Indoor Auto Show. Butler Eagle File Photo

Wheels are turning to create a museum to display cars and trucks once made in Butler.

The Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau is planning to use a $475,000 state grant — which it must match — for a museum to showcase Butler-made vehicles owned by the bureau and possibly those owned by Butler City.

The state has awarded the bureau the grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to acquire property for the museum.

Jack Cohen, tourism bureau president, said the bureau has set aside money for the required match and is looking for a site for the museum. He said he hopes the project will “at least get underway” next year.

A Bantam panel truck, a Bantam two-seat convertible and an American Austin that the bureau owns and stores in the former Pullman Standard plant would be publicly displayed in the museum.

Cohen said he also would like to see in the display the 1909 Huselton and 1941 Bantam BRC40 military Jeep prototype owned by the city, and the 1922 Standard owned by the Butler Old Stone House Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America, which maintains the city-owned vehicles.

“The only time people see them is when they are out in parades,” Cohen said. “We would like to have a place where we can show them to people all the time.”

The grant application was titled “Born and Built in Butler,” but Cohen said the name of the museum has not been determined.

The bureau wants to show its Butler-made vehicles as symbols of the county’s history and to instill pride in residents.

“We have them in storage. We would prefer not to keep them in a garage. We would prefer for people to see them. It’s part of the rich history of Butler County, and we should show that,” Cohen said.

“If people have the opportunity to see the history of where they’re from, they’re more inclined to talk about it and where they live. Pride goes a long way.”

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