In a deal set to close on May 15th, Ed Swift IV, Chief Operating Officer of Historic Tours of America, informed local Historic City News reporters that the attraction operator will acquire Potter’s Wax Museum; a landmark established in St Augustine in 1948.
Gary White, and his family, once owned the famous collection which occupied the ground floor of their building at 1 King Street; the Plaza Hotel which is now home to A1A Ale Works and an inside mall of assorted retail shopkeepers. Jim and Sandy Craig, together with Kim and Brad Ponce, relocated the museum “up the road” two blocks, to the corner of Aviles Street; the east corner of the F. W. Woolworth building at 17 King Street.
Potter’s Wax Museum, the first wax museum founded in the United States has been captivating guests in St Augustine for 66 years. It is the first museum collection of its kind in Florida, and includes nearly 170 different, astoundingly real-looking, life-size wax sculptures of presidents, kings, explorers, movie stars, television entertainers, artists, authors, sports figures, and more. See Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, or the cast of the hit TV series “Seinfeld”, just to name a few.
Just over a year ago, Historic City News reported the last relocation of Potter’s many historical exhibits to their current home; once part of the T.W. Speissegger Drug Store at 31 Orange Street. The original drug store on that site was built by Antonio Gomaas in 1739. At 49-years-old, in 1868, after serving in the Confederate States Army during the “War between the States”, Thomas William Speissegger left Charleston and moved to Mill Creek with his family. In 1875, he bought the business; now billed as the oldest drug store in Florida. T.W. Speissegger died in St Augustine on August 4, 1894, and he is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
“It’s a perfect fit for us,” General Manager Dave Chatterton was quoted in a recent issue of the St Augustine Report. “We can preserve a historic property and a business, with one of the oldest and most valuable collections in the United States.”
Historic Tours of America is also the owner of the Oldest Store Museum Experience, formerly located on Artillery Lane. The updated attraction is now part of the Old Town collection of restored buildings at the Old Jail on San Marco Avenue. Similar technology to that being used there will be integrated into the Potter’s Wax Museum displays, according to Chatterton.
Both the Old Drug Store and Potter’s Wax Museum will remain on Orange Street. While the museum is getting a “facelift”, you will still be able to get “face-to-face” with some of the world’s most famous and prominent people; as the exhibits will remain open during the planned refurbishing.
“We plan new hands-on educational exhibits to learn about notable historical figures, and interact with and have photographs taken with celebrities and other characters depicted in the museum stage sets,” Chatterton told reporters. “We will enhance the current displays from artifacts and antiques stored in our warehouse.”
This collection of figures is so lifelike; you will look twice to see if they are real. The museum has received world-wide acclaim for its authenticity and unique costuming. Visitors are encouraged to bring their camera for some up close and personal moments with their favorite personality.