Looking for a blast to the past? Whether checking out a massive collection of Snoopy and the Gang or exploring over 500 different Monopoly variations – including the initial prototypes from Marx and other manufacturers – then you’ll want to make a stop at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum. Located at 144 Kruger Street in Elm Grove, the museum has been designed to make guests of all ages feel a sense of play and nostalgia.
The building that houses the museum was previously the home to Elm Grove Elementary School. It was originally built in 1906 and was occupied by the school until 1991. From 1994-94, it was temporarily used by West Liberty State College before permanently closing. At the time, it seemed like the building’s future was uncertain, but luckily it sold at auction in 1997 and reopened in 1998 as the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum. According to their website, the fully-restored schoolhouse still has its original original woodwork and tin ceilings that were made locally by Wheeling Corrugating. If you take a look around some of the rooms in the museum, you can even find it original slate blackboards that were used to teach students for nearly 100 years!
James Schulte, the museum’s curator with a tenure of nearly a decade shared that “the Kruger Street School building originally taught first through tenth grades and officially closed in 1991. The museum owners, the Millers, bought the property at auction and restored the original woodwork and ceilings, and then opened the Museum in the Fall of 1998. This is our 25th year of operations here at the museum.”
With the tagline “Prepare to be transported back to your childhood,” the museum houses a variety of toys that speak to the child in all of its visitors. Several rooms house toys from all eras, such as the train room, transportation room, miniatures room, and a doll room.
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The museum not only draws locals but also has grown to have an international following. Schulte states, “The museum sees travelers from around the world annually. We usually see at least a few people from Australia. Our annual Marx Convention gathers people from all over the US, from California and Washington, to Florida and Maine.” In total, the museum welcomes nearly 10,000 visitors each year.
The best part about all those visitors? According to Schulte, “The most exciting part of my experience at the museum is knowing that we are here helping people relive their memories as children. We are also a place to come and be a child again with all of our hands-on displays.”
If you are ready to experience the magic for yourself, The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Up-to-date information regarding exhibits and entry is available by following the museum on Facebook, or by checking out their website at toyandtrain.com.
•Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.