The announcement of the permanent closure of Roadside America after 85 years of business has elicited an emotional outpouring from the public. Many have visited the local attraction for decades, and in some families these visits were traditions or rites of passage shared over generations.
BCTV will host a two hour LIVE retrospective on Thursday, January 21 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The program will be hosted by Renaissance Auction Group owner Bill Howze, joined by Dolores Heinsohn, granddaughter of Roadside America’s creator Laurence Gieringer, and other family members and friends as they share the stories of the iconic and captivating Roadside America. This special program invites callers to join the conversation live via phone to ask questions and share their memories of the fascinating spectacle. Donations are being accepted to help fund the creation of a documentary on Roadside America to be produced exclusively by BCTV.
Donate online here, and please note ‘Roadside America’ in the special instructions for your gift. Pledges will also be accepted by phone during the program.
Billed as “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village”, Roadside America in Shartlesville, PA is home to an entire miniature depiction of multiple towns, attractions, and events – all shrunk to delicate, tiny size – the careful design of which thousands of visitors over decades have feasted their eyes and imaginations. The handcrafted scale model buildings, bridges and accessories were built by Laurence Gieringer for display and included working trains, running water features, moving parts run by small electric engines, and an entire world of whimsy carefully designed with painstaking detail in charming, wee size.
Nearly three years ago, the Heinsohn family, dedicated heirs and caretakers of the collection, decided to place the display for sale hoping to find a buyer who would continue business operations. Despite meeting with multiple interested parties, each with their own unique vision, none committed to moving forward with the village.
The family found themselves in an increasingly difficult position when they closed the doors at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. They remained hopeful that someone would come forward and commit to the business. As months passed and the future of tourism remained uncertain, they ultimately made the difficult decision to pursue other options.
In partnership with The Renaissance Auction Group, the entire display as well as items from the venue and adjacent PA Dutch Gift Haus are being sold in multiple auctions. Buyers can own a piece of history as the village in particular is sold in ‘lots’ similar to a miniature real estate sale.
While these sales are occurring to the delight of collectors and enthusiasts throughout the country, the response from long time local admirers of Mr. Geiringer’s whimsical world is that of fond memories, reminiscing, and a tinge of bittersweet sadness as many are disappointed to see the end of an era, although they understand the circumstances.
One thing is certain – Roadside America is truly one-of-a-kind and will live on in the hearts and memories of many.
We invite you to celebrate the stories and times of “The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village” on Thursday, January 21 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on BCTV.