One of our first stops while we were exploring Hamilton was the J.C. Penney Museum. The museum is part of the local library and is filled with items used by J.C. Penney personally as well as in his first stores. There is a wax figure of Penney himself anchoring the exhibit…it was a little alarming at first, but he felt like an old friend by the end. Some of my favorite items in the museum were the office supplies–so many fantastic rubber stamps and little notebooks and handbooks. And there was a tricky looking calculator and a gorgeous Underwood typewriter. Swoon! I love this picture from the JC Penney Golden Jubilee Convention in 1952. It was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago and it looks like it was a fabulous event! Brannock devices and other shoe-selling tools make me miss good customer service in the shoe departments of today. This is a plate that was made for J.C. Penney’s eightieth birthday. Isn’t James Cash a terrific name?Ah, catalogs…so good for browsing, so bad for the environment.
I didn’t do any research before we went to the museum, but J.C. Penney’s desk is in the museum and unlike most museums, you are invited to sit in his chair. I’m bummed that I learned this after we left and the museum closed. We did thumb through the catalogs though. There was no one working in the museum, so when it came time to buy postcards (which were only 10¢ each!) I took them into the library side to pay for them. I love how quaint and laid-back it was! A few blocks down the main road is the J.C. Penney childhood home. It isn’t open for touring and it’s not in its original location (Penney grew up just outside of town in the countryside.) In the 80s it was saved from being torn down and moved into town and renovated. It sits among the businesses downtown Hamilton, a charming reminder of the man himself.