«Previous    Next»
Classic IH Dealership Opened As Museum
For Ben Trapani, President of the International Harvester Collectors (IHC) and the 270 members of local Chapter 17, purchasing the Bartlow IH Dealership Building in their hometown of Millville, Penn., was all about maintaining history.
“When I walked into the building in 2001, I was infatuated with it,” says Trapani. “Back then, I never thought owning it could happen. Now, we’ve got work parties with anywhere from 2 to 15 guys fixing things up, doing projects, and making sure it’s as close as possible to what it originally was.”
He explains that the building was a prototype of what IH wanted every dealership from Maine to California to be. Like a McDonalds’ fast-food restaurant, when you drove by, you’d know exactly what it was.
The front section measures 80 ft., and the shop area is 65 by 65 ft. square. Recent projects, completed largely by chapter volunteers, include a small library and meeting room with a conference table, chairs and bookshelves.
In 2008, Chapter 17 decided to purchase the building from Mr. Bartlow, the son of the original 1939 dealer, and his son. To make this possible, they ran auctions, attended shows, sold t-shirts, and participated in Red Power Roundups, the gathering hubs for IH equipment, dealers, and collectors. Mr. Bartlow, Sr. was paid his half of the $150,000 in full, and his son financed the remainder at a friendly deal for the club members.
In 2009, the club took possession and finished paying for the property in 2019. It’s now proudly open as a museum from May through October.
Over the years, they’ve maintained the original flooring and updated whatever was necessary, like the electrical system. Everything was done to maintain the authenticity of the time.
“Nothing has really changed,” Trapani says. “If you walk into it now, you’d think you were back in 1950. Nobody took a saw to cut things up. It’s the way it was, period. We kept it that way to uphold the history.”
Three 1831 reapers make up a portion of the display along with a 1962 dozer that was originally used as the test model for the IH construction branch in Chicago. An 8-ft. tall talking robot named “Tracto” greets guests as they arrive to view tractors, memorabilia, signage, cream separators, and milking machines.
“It’s been a large undertaking with a lot of effort from many good people to make this work,” Trapani says. “It’s a very unique building and we’re extremely thankful for it.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ben Trapani, Bartlow Prototype IH Dealership Building, 47 S. Chestnut St., Millville, Penn. 17846 (ph 570-971-3232; www.IHCC17.org).

  Click here to download page story appeared in.

  Click here to read entire issue

To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.
Order the Issue Containing This Story
2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5