HISTORIC DINER TRAVELS 790 MILES TO NEW HOME
Piece of Historic Roadside Americana Joins Gilmore Car Museum
Hickory Corners, MI
Some people might travel several miles for a really good cup of coffee. The Gilmore Car Museum of Hickory Corners, MI has brought that really good coffee 790 miles! The Museum’s newest addition to its collection is a piece of Historic Roadside Americana, a 1941 Silk City Diner formerly known as the “Blue Moon Diner.”
For nearly 60 years and countless cups of coffee, this eatery was a roadside landmark in Meridan, CT, serving locals and weary travelers alike. This remarkably well-preserved diner was located last fall and has traveled 790 miles from its original location in Connecticut to Cleveland, OH to undergo a partial restoration, then continued on to the Gilmore Car Museum. It arrived amongst great fanfare June 3, 2004.
Built in 1941 by the Paterson Vehicle Company of Paterson, NJ, the diner seats thirty-six and features an exterior of porcelain enamel panels with an interior featuring blue tiles, stainless steel “star bursts” and chrome counter stools. It originally opened in 1941 as “Joe’s Diner” on Center Street in Meridan, CT. After years of operation Joe turned the diner over to his daughter and it became known as “Gina’s Diner.” It was “The Blue Moon Diner” when the popular local eatery closed its doors for the last time in 1997. It remained empty for several years before being purchased by the Gilmore Car Museum located near Kalamazoo, MI.
The Gilmore Car Museum will complete the diner’s restoration on site, where it will become another slice of living history as “George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner.” Not only is the diner a museum exhibit, but also will once again serve coffee, fresh frozen custard and a limited menu of typical diner fare.
“We were excited to locate this wonderful piece of automotive heritage,” explained Museum Executive Director Michael Spezia, “and are thrilled to be able to give it a new life here.”
A substantial gift in the memory of Hickory Corners residents George and Sally Turner by their family, started the Museum’s diner project over three years ago. Additional funds to purchase and restore the diner have come through continued donations, the Museum’s Wednesday Night Cruise-ins and the sale of engraved glass blocks.
During the early part of the last century, decommissioned railroad passenger cars and trolleys were often converted into small, stand-alone restaurants. By the late 1920s, a handful of companies began building prefabricated “diners” in the shape of train cars. Offered as a complete restaurant business, these diners were transported to permanent locations complete with all silverware, utensils, dishes and equipment to begin serving prepared food quickly. This was the birth of the fast food restaurant and by the late 40s over one dozen diner manufacturers, most located on the east coast, began competing for a “piece of the pie.” The Paterson Vehicle Company, known first for its horse-drawn wagons and later for its truck and bus bodies, offered the first of its Silk City Diners in 1928.
Diners evolved into community gathering places where people knew they could enjoy a quick meal in a comfortable atmosphere. Over the years, many of these original diners have been torn down and lost to urban sprawl. The Gilmore Car Museum expects the diner restoration to be completed yet this summer and “George and Sally’s Blue Moon Diner” to once again become a community-gathering place.
The Gilmore Car Museum is open to the public 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm daily and until 6 pm on weekends through October. Located in the heart of west Michigan, the museum is midway between Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek, on M-43 and Hickory Road.
To learn more about the Gilmore Car Museum visit: www.GilmoreCarMuseum.org
or call the museum at 269-671-5089.
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