In 2018, Roadside America in Shartlesville, PA became publicly listed for sale. This incredible roadside attraction is a beloved landmark of the Berks County area, and exhibits a piece of American history that can't be found anywhere else in the world. Our goal here on Kickstarter is to raise the funds necessary to purchase Roadside America and relocate it to a more convenient area here in Berks County in order to ensure that this masterpiece is forever preserved as it is within the community that has loved it for over 80 years.
We want to thank every single individual and organization that supports us in any way during this endeavor. Being current employees at Roadside America, and Roadside America fanatics long before that, we want nothing more than to make sure this wonderful piece of art is preserved and displayed for generations to come. Every donation, social media share, and press coverage piece means more to us than you will ever know. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all so much!
What is Roadside America?
Roadside America has been an iconic Berks County, Pennsylvania attraction since it was first displayed to the public in Laurence Gieringer's Reading home in 1935. From there, the modest Christmas display grew into what has been described since the 1950's as "the world's greatest miniature village", arguably one of the most incredible feats of creativity and craftsmanship ever produced by a single man.
Roadside America is a nearly 6k square foot miniature exhibit featuring over 300 handcrafted buildings, 2k feet of operating railroad, and 4k happy miniature residents. Scattered throughout the perimeter of the exhibit are push buttons which operate various animations. The amount of creativity and the attention to detail poured into this incredible exhibit makes it a marvel of human ingenuity. Its historic past makes it a lovechild of the American dream.
What is the "New Life"?
In late 2017, the owners of Roadside America currently operating the business decided it was time to retire. The exhibit was put up for sale and was publicly listed in early 2018. When the news broke among the staff currently maintaining the exhibit, three of the staple employees decided to take it upon themselves to keep the legacy of Laurence Gieringer alive.
The history of Roadside America began in the city of Reading, PA. In fact, the inspiration for the village came to young Laurence Gieringer in 1903 while standing atop Mount Penn overlooking the industrious and thriving city. The story goes that from his perspective atop the mountain, the city below looked like a collection of miniatures. It was from this experience that the now 6k square foot exhibit housed in Shartlesville, PA came to be.
Unfortunately, the land and building the exhibit currently inhabits, and has inhabited since 1953, would require a massive amount of work in order to make it a feasible location for long term success. With that in mind, we feel that it is crucial to keep Roadside America in the Berks County area as it features many buildings and structures built to resemble local landmarks of the era. The goal upon successful funding of this Kickstarter campaign is to take the world's greatest miniature village and bring it closer to the city from which it takes inspiration from.
How would the exhibit improve?
In a new location, proper measures will be taken in order to ensure the exhibit remains fresh and appealing for years to come. The village's landscape will be reproduced using longer lasting materials while maintaining the same look and feel as the original. Preserving the legacy of the village's creator, Laurence Gieringer, and maintaining the nostalgic look and feel of the exhibit is our first priority.
Each of the handcrafted buildings and structures from the exhibit will be relocated as they are and thoroughly cleaned in order to return them to their original beauty. Our goal is to keep the overall layout of the new exhibit as close to identical to the original as possible.
Beyond refreshing the exhibit and returning it to its original beauty, we aim to reinstall all of the push button animations that have been damaged and/or removed over the years and return them to working order for all to enjoy.
Who are the potential new owners?
We are three of the staple employees currently maintaining and operating Roadside America. Each one of us has our own unique story of how we came to love the world's greatest miniature village and later how we came to work at it.
Jon Jordan - "My name is Jon Jordan and I'm currently the Village Supervisor at Roadside America. I was born and raised in the Reading, PA area, so I first discovered Roadside America when I was very young. My dad used to bring me all the time, but when I was a kid, I only knew it as "the push button train place". In 2014, I graduated from Governor Mifflin High School and immediately launched my own business while working elsewhere full time. In the summer of 2016, I brought my girlfriend to Roadside America, noticed a "Help Wanted" sign in the window, and the rest is history. My current job description includes overseeing the maintenance of the village, organizing all of the special attractions (seasonal decorations and community events), and managing the company's online presence (social media pages and website)."
Richard Peiffer - "My name is Richard Peiffer and I'm currently the Road Foreman of Track, Trains, and Trolleys at Roadside America. I was born and raised in Harrisburg, PA. By the time I visited Roadside America for the first time in September of 1968, I was already into trains so the seemingly endless display sealed my fate where trains were concerned. The first time I ever visited Roadside America, my brother, cousins, and I all piled into my grandparents' 62' Pontiac. Eight people in one car, with one seat belt. From then on, I made regular trips to visit Roadside America. Even after joining the Navy, I made the effort to visit as often as possible. And even while cruising under the waves in a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine, I had model train track wrapped around missile tubes. I eventually won a medal for repairing a navigation instrument with model train parts. Today, I stay high and dry while fulfilling my mission here maintaining the model railroads at Roadside America."
Jeff Marks- "My name is Jeff Marks, a Berks County native and currently the Landscape and Restoration Artist at Roadside America. I've been coming to Roadside America since I was a child. In fact, seeing the display as a child was a major influence on my career as an adult. Guided by a strong passion for art at an early age, my artistic mediums have included watercolor painting and miniature house modeling. My main focus here at Roadside America is to maintain the integrity of the display in the way Mr. Laurence Gieringer envisioned it. My responsibilities include repainting and restoring the miniature buildings and structures, and helping to make the display come alive with vibrant landscaping. Roadside America stirs the imagination is all of us, young and old alike. I love it especially because I have a strong passion for history, and Roadside America is quite literally a piece of American history."
What rewards are available for supporters?
By supporting this Kickstarter campaign, you are helping us fulfill our shared lifelong dream of one day owning Roadside America while also helping us to ensure this Berks County icon remains here in Berks County where it belongs. You are also giving us the opportunity to breathe new life into this beautiful exhibit and restore it to its original glory.
In return for your very much appreciated support, we have a collection of rewards available for different contribution tiers. We also have different rewards available for corporate supporters.
We have some really cool opportunities for individual backers such as free admission to the new exhibit when it opens, admission to our VIP early access event, limited edition Roadside America t-shirts, and even the opportunity to be immortalized inside the village as a permanent miniature resident! Hurry though, many of the tiers have limited availability!
Businesses have the opportunity to not only have their logo or name permanently represented on our wall of honor, but we are also offering really cool opportunities for our higher corporate tiers like having your very own miniature billboard inside the world's greatest miniature village!
What if more than the goal is raised?
Our funding goal is the bare minimum required to relocate, reconstruct, and reopen Roadside America in a new location. With that said, we know that this incredible exhibit has massive potential far beyond what it is today. If we are able to raise $1,300,000, we will be able to virtually double our space and do a lot of really cool things, including:
Museum Area: The museum area will give visitors a chance to learn more about the exhibit's creator, Laurence Gieringer. This new addition would include historic pieces and memorabilia from past locations, a historically accurate scale model of Neversink Mountain with operating railroads/trolley lines, a showcase of some of the art of Laurence Gieringer, and so much more.
Tour-able Workbenches: Ever wonder how model trains are repaired, or how miniature buildings are cleaned? Tour-able workbenches will give visitors the opportunity to look in on the various members of the maintenance crew as they work to keep the world's greatest miniature village operational.
Photo Opportunity: Pictures are always welcome at Roadside America, but with this addition, you'll be able to get your picture taken as a miniature inside the village! Using a green screen set up, visitors will receive a complimentary digital photo of them standing in their favorite scene of the world's greatest miniature village!
AND SO MUCH MORE!
Please Note: Apart from being employees of Roadside America Inc, we are in no way endorsed by the company, the company's current owner(s), or anyone related to the sale of the business. Please direct all press inquiries to Jon Jordan at email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
Our top priority is maintaining the legacy of Laurence Gieringer, and to us that means maintaining the nostalgic look and feel of Roadside America while still making improvements to the way the exhibit operates so that it may thrive far into the foreseeable future. We three know the display perhaps better than anybody, and we know what it takes to keep it up. We are up to the challenge!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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