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Hostetler's Hudson Museum to close, collection to be broken up and sold.

A few years ago the DMAC East Coast Chapter had an opportunity to tour this wonderful museum specializing in the Hudson automobile. It's ashame that it is closed and the collection will be broken up. Below is the report from the Hemmings Motor News:

On January 30, the Hudson Automobile Museum Board voted in favor of permanently closing Hostetler’s Hudson Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana, and liquidating its 55-car collection. To gain a more complete perspective on this, as well as the fate of the museum’s automobiles, Hemmings Motor New spoke with Eldon “JR” Hostetler, Jr., son of the museum’s founder, and Bob Shanahan, Shipshewana’s town manager.

JR, a museum board member and himself a collector of automobiles and motorcycles, served as the institution’s mechanic/caretaker, and – following his father’s 2016 death – its acting spokesman. During the January 30 ballot, his was the lone vote cast in favor of keeping the museum open, while the remaining three board members voted for its closure and the sale of the automobiles within.

JR questioned the numbers presented, arguing that the scenarios given – one showing a loss of $700,000 over five years and the other, a loss of $1.17 million – failed to consider or accurately portray the contribution of the levied innkeeper’s tax, or fees from other events (such as concerts and conventions) held at Shipshewana’s Town Center. He also believes the city should have tried to renegotiate the museum’s lease with Blue Gate Holdings, current owner of the Town Center, but was told that doing so simply wasn’t an option.

Town Manager Shanahan, however, had a different perspective, citing the museum’s past two rent-free years, a condition of the building’s sale to Blue Gate Holdings in 2016. An annual rent payment of $154,000 would have been due to Blue Gate in February of 2019, and without sufficient revenue from the museum, the town would have been obligated to fund this. Income from museum admissions in 2017, Shanahan said, contributed “around $17,000” to the bottom line, an amount insufficient to cover two months rent. Factor in other operating expenses, like insurance, utilities and salaries, and the extent of the museum’s financial woes becomes clear.

Shanahan presented a differing viewpoint on the application of the innkeeper tax, saying that it was “for certain criteria only,” and couldn’t be used to fund things like staff salaries. “It was applied where it could be in the projections,” he told us, admitting that the museum’s 501(c)(3) status further complicated the search for a solution that would satisfy all parties, as it limited the way for-profit companies could interact with the museum.

With no way to close the gap between the cost of operating the museum and the revenue projections submitted, Shanahan believes that the museum board’s vote to close the museum was the only way forward. That makes the next step preparing the cars in the collection for sale, a process that he estimates will take roughly 90 days. If all goes as planned, the cars – technically owned by the non-profit Shipshewana Car Museum, Inc. – will cross the auction block in late spring or early summer. Proceeds, projected to be around $4 million, will go to the town.

For his part, JR is more concerned about the breakup of his father’s collection – which he describes as the most-complete Hudson collection in the world – than he is over the town’s potential windfall. “Keeping the collection together is the best we can hope for now,” he told us, though the town doesn’t share the same concern. The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, reportedly offered to take the collection, even proposing a fundraiser to build it a dedicated home. Shipshewana, however, isn’t willing – or perhaps able – to make a $4 million donation in the name of preserving automotive history.

Could the town have done more to preserve the museum? JR believes the answer is yes, citing the town’s long-standing opposition to spending money on promoting the unique attraction. “The initial group in charge spent money on advertising and marketing,” JR told us, “but the town wanted an immediate return. They wanted to break even in the first year, but building a reputation and an audience takes time.”

That time has run out, and barring some kind of last-minute miracle, the cars of Hostetler’s Hudson Museum will be cross the auction stage, in Shipshewana or at a larger venue, by mid-year.

Where Are You From? Oviedo, Florida

Do You own a car built by Durant? 1928 Durant Model 65 4 door sedan from Elizabeth, NJ Plant

Re: Hostetler's Hudson Museum to close, collection to be broken up and sold.

This is a crying shame but illustrates the futility of having to deal with or depend upon politicians and bureaucrats. Of course, the Gilmore would be the perfect venue for this collection but, apparently, there are not enough persons, associated with this museum, that are truly interested in preserving this collection. They need more people with a Positive outlook.

Where Are You From? Texarkana, TX

Do You own a car built by Durant? Several plus 1


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