NORWICH — The Northeast Classic Car Museum (NECCM), located at 24 Rexford Street in Norwich, recently wrapped up their year-long facade project in which the over 90,000 square foot industrial-style facility was transformed with a sleek, vintage design, as well as some other upgrades.
"Fortunately because of community support we were able to purchase the property across the street, and we were able to develop a multifaceted, first-class parking lot," said NECCM Executive Director Robert Jeffrey. "The second phase was to remove the old warehouse facade appearance of the museum that just faces Rexford Street right here, and create a new museum facade that was that of a vintage car dealership. That’s what this is supposed to look like."
The remodel features large windows, chrome detailing, brand new sidewalks, a new parking lot, crosswalks with pedestrian signal lights, and some interior touches like new carpeting and a new reception counter that mimics the exterior style.
Jeffrey said renovations were always on the museum's radar, but perfectly timed community support made the project possible. The work first began in June of 2021 and was finished up in May of this year.
Now that the project is complete, Jeffrey said he hopes the museum's new look will not only increase patronage of the museum, but also promote the area and inspire others to invest in the community.
"We always say we attract people from all over the world, literally. We are a world class museum and we wanted to have the outside reflect the inside and what it has, because we do attract people from all over," said Jeffrey.
"We’re hoping that this will increase traffic to the museum and to the community as well, and we’re hoping that what we’ve done here will hopefully start in motion people in this neighborhood that may invest, and start seeing capital investment put into this section of the area," he added. "We want the community to feel proud of what we have here. I think hopefully we were able to work towards that. We’re here to help the education part of it, but also to help promote the community. We’re proud of our community, we’re proud of our museum, and we want to make sure that other people look at us and say, jeez, that’s going to look nice."
The Northeast Classic Car Museum is an educational facility and 501(c)3 nonprofit that was established in May of 1997, marking 2022 as the museum's 25th anniversary.
The sprawling showrooms feature over 200 classic cars, the majority of which were manufactured in the United States, as well as vintage clothing displays donated by the Chenango County Historical Society, loaned vehicles from local residents, airplane engines, motorcycles, and much more.
"Just because you saw it in the museum two years ago, there’s a lot that changes," he continued. "It doesn't seem like it, but it’s very busy here and things are constantly changing. Even though we do a grand exhibit opening every June timeframe, it’s constantly changing. There are cars constantly coming in or going out, motorcycles, and it kind of keeps it fresh."
Although the museum was not immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeffrey said their attendance for 2019 was the best they've ever seen, and attendance this year is already looking good.
"We had approximately 18,600 people which is the largest number we’ve ever had. We almost doubled what we did," he said. "In 2012 they had done around 9,700 people. So we about doubled the traffic in about seven years, which is pretty significant. And we’re actually seeing a lot of pent up demand this year for people to get out, so our numbers are looking good. We didn’t do any groups or events here, due to construction and things like that. So now hopefully we can get back to normal here."
Jeffrey credits the museum's success to the dedicated staff, volunteers, and board of trustees who help keep it running smoothly and strive to create a great experience for their visitors.
"Last year we had over 40 volunteers who generously donated over 8,400 hours of their time to make the museum a great place to visit," said Jeffrey. "The volunteers are really outstanding, so we’re lucky. Our exhibitors, we’re fortunate to have exhibitors that trust us. Donors and supporters and volunteers, and also we’ve got a really good board of trustees. They’re all committed to it."
The NECCM stayed open to the public through the facade project and construction work, and Jeffrey said the response from visitors has been nothing but positive. He urges those who haven't seen the remodel yet to stop by and check it out.
"They’re excited and they’re all loving it," said Jeffrey. "A lot of the folks and people that have been here before are like, ‘wow, this is really nice’.
"The whole facade and parking lot project have actually been transformative for how the museum is viewed, and that was our goal, to do that. Because we are a world class museum, I really believe it."
The Northeast Classic Car Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and only closed on Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas.
More information on the Northeast Classic Car Museum can be found at classiccarmuseum.org, or on the Northeast Classic Car Museum Facebook page.