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 Jerry Fallstrom

By Jerry Fallstrom This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. October 13,2017

 

CLERMONT — Busts of Donald Trump and Barack Obama sit side by side on a table at the Presidents Hall of Fame. It’s hard to imagine the 44th and 45th presidents getting that close in real life, given all that’s transpired during the last campaign and since Trump took office. Still, the placement is in line with the nonpartisan approach owner John Zweifel takes with the U.S. Highway 27 roadside attraction that is his pride and joy. It’s packed with political memorabilia of the men — mostly Democrats and Republicans — who have held the nation’s highest office and includes life-sized replicas of the presidents and some first ladies.

A bust of Donald Trump sits side by side with a bust of Barack Obama at the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, photographed Sept. 23, 2017. (Jerry Fallstrom/Orlando Sentinel)

 

It’s packed with political memorabilia of the men — mostly Democrats and Republicans — who have held the nation’s highest office and includes life-sized replicas of the presidents and some first ladies.

The masterpiece of the collection is the White House in Miniature, a 1-inch to 1-foot exact replica of the most famous address in the world — 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was created from 1962 to 1975 by Zweifel, his wife, Jan, and their children.

People who have never been to the real White House can peek inside the White House in Miniature, which stretches 60 feet from the east wing to the west wing and has been exhibited around the country and world including at numerous political conventions.

President Gerald Ford gave John Zweifel access to the White House so he could recreate rooms down to the most intricate detail. Ford and first lady Betty Ford lauded the Zweifels, of Orlando, in a forward to a 1994 book that chronicles the history of the White House replica.

“To come to the White House, or behold the Zweifels’ meticulous representation of the rooms, helps us to better understand our nation’s past and feel a sense of continuity with it,” they wrote.

The museum serves the same purpose.

 

Replica of Harry Truman's "The Buck Stops Here" sign at the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, photographed Sept. 23, 2017. (Jerry Fallstrom/Orlando Sentinel)

Visitors can see a replica of President Harry Truman’s famous “The Buck Stops Here” sign that he had on his desk. JFK is there, seated in a replica of one of his famous rocking chairs. Behind him is a new addition — a life-size figure of actress Marilyn Monroe, who famously sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” in 1962 to Kennedy in a sultry voice.

 

A life-size replica of Marilyn Monroe adds a little kitsch to the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, photographed Sept. 23, 2017. (Jerry Fallstrom/Orlando Sentinel)

 

Visitors can put their feet up on a replica of the president’s desk, famous for a photo of John-John Kennedy climbing out of an opening as JFK looks at papers.

Treasured original pieces include a portion of the East Room floor removed because of scars caused by a presidential child’s roller-skating. A card in a display case says, “with thanks from Amy Carter’s skates.”

Replica of the Lincoln Memorial at the entrance to the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, photographed Sept. 23, 2017. (Jerry Fallstrom/Orlando Sentinel)

 

It’s hard to miss the museum from U.S. 27, where a replica of the Statue of Liberty beckons visitors. At the entrance is a mockup of the Lincoln Memorial. The back of the building contains a mural of Ronald Reagan. At the side is a copy of Mount Rushmore. A portion was knocked off by Hurricane Irma — but the presidents’ heads remained intact.

Even people who aren’t presidential or history buffs have a lot of fun looking at the collection from George Washington to Trump.

“I’ve seen parents dragging their kids in,” art director Tommy Candido said, “and then the kids not wanting to leave.”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 352-742-5916

 

Categories: Budget: Tight Demographic: Solo Traveler, Empty Nesters, Retirees Interests: Cultural, Learning a New Skill or Hobby If you go: What: Presidents Hall of Fame Where: 123 S. U.S. Highway 27, Clermont Phone: 352-394-2836 Website: www.thepresidentshalloffame.com
 

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/orlando-staycations/os-orlando-staycation-presidents-hall-of-fame-20170828-story.html

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