Welcome to Williams and the Hemken Collection museum! Williams, population 425, located in Northeast Hamilton County, was settled in 1869. The building housing the original museum was built by J.P. Talcott as a second story showroom for carriages. In the intervening years, the building has been used as an implement dealership, a plumbing business, and a grocery store. In 1997-1998 Hemkens renovated the old building, developing a showroom for 16 cars and related auto memorabilia.
Daryl began collecting special interest autos in 1958, choosing convertibles from 1947 and 1948 because of his knowledge of the era. Few convertibles were made then because cars were still rationed through 1948, and the demand was such that there was no need for expensive, unique models to tempt the buying public. The collection now contains 20 different convertibles form 1947 and 1948. One each from all American makers. It is noteworthy that because of the war, body styles and materials in 1948 for the most part resembled those in 1941. Another reason for the interest in convertibles is that when put in salvage yards, the tops deteriorate making interiors impossible to renovate, so nice original cars are rare.
The emphasis in the museum is on conservation rather than restoration. Most of the autos are in basically original condition, as they were when driven. Cars in the museum will be rotated among the 100 or so available, making an ever-changing display possible. From 1958 until the present, cars were purchased only if they had special features, i.e. body style, limited production, fresh-air heater, twin ignition, etc.
The new addition, including a 50′ x 50′ mezzanine for special exhibits, adds 7,500 square ft. to the existing museum. The basement of the original building has been renovated to provide additional storage for cars and exhibits. It is accessed by the interior ramp in the new building. Altogether, there are 20,ooo sq. ft. of display space, with the potential of displaying 55-60 cars. Emphasis will continue to be on the 1940’s, particularly convertibles from 1947-1948.
The Hemken Collection is a non-profit foundation, with 501 (c) (3) designation, making contributions tax-deductible.
General contractor for the project has been Peterson Construction.