The Kulp General Store and Museum, On Sumneytown Pike In Vernfield, held an open house on Saturday. Proprietor Mike Hart says he restored it as a personal favor to his friend, former owner Clarence Kulp Junior, who was born and raised there.
“All along the theme was to create a general store museum out of what was once the original general store and rent out the other half of the house or possibly live here, so as it turned out I ended up living here and the museum became a museum. It was sort of a life rights thing in the beginning. I was giving him life rights to come in and sit in the museum and talk to people, but unfortunately he passed away almost three years ago, so he got to see about half of the renovations, but unfortunately he didn’t make it through to the end.”
Hart says Kulp was spending a lot of time in the hospital in his final years, and the store was getting broken into and vandalized, so he decided to take it on as an investment and a fun project. He restored it to the way it was in the 1920’s and 30’s. He says its gasoline pumps, built in 1925, are manually operated.
“You hand crank the lever back and forth, and it brings the gas up from a tank in the ground and into the cylinder, and then as you release the nozzle it gravity drains into the gas tank of your car. These aren’t electrified. The electrified pumps came into play in the early 30’s, and the stations around these parts that had these old hand-cranked pumps upgraded to the electric, and typically what happened is these pumps ended up moving out more north and west. Oftentimes these pumps ended up in rural mountain areas, resort areas, marinas. A lot of them went to marinas because they didn’t need electricity there to use them.”
Hart says the gas pumps were popular in their day, and they were known as Mae West pumps because of their shape. He says they were gone from the roadside by the mid-1930’s, but they are still popular among antique gas pump collectors.