Americana 1900- The Complete Presentation

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster


The County Commissioners of Americana County have decided to grant permission to a group of movie producers from Keystone Studios who are experimenting with a new kind of film- something they are calling a “documentary.” Their idea is to film a series of investigative short films (silent, of course, with dialog cards to explain what is being seen by the moviegoer), with a common theme to be shown weekly in the hundreds of nickelodeon theaters sprouting up across the country. The film crew has decided to invite some of Americana’s visitors onto the site of their latest project, to film their reaction to what- if anything- they discover as they do their “investigative reporting.”

The name of the film series? This week’s episode?


These visitors, who have been nicknamed by the filmmakers as “ghost hunters,” enter the Crypt from the first-floor lobby of the 1884 Courthouse, the successor to the infamous 1865 structure. The north wall of the lobby appears to have recently been broken through to provide access to the previously-sealed basement. A rather hastily-crafted sign over this entrance, painted with red paint that wasn’t allowed to dry completely (with the result that the paint trickled down a bit), gives the appearance that blood was used for the pigment.


Other similarly-creepy signs warn visitors that the sights they will be seeing past this entrance are not for children or the faint of heart (or anyone with a heart condition, high blood pressure, etc.). Note: Townsfolk at this entrance to the attraction will be sure to alert adults with children that this is an intensely frightening attraction before they descend the stairs to the queue deep under the Courthouse. As visitors descend down several flights of brick and stone steps, they notice that the further down they descend, the more evidence of a conflagration appears. The stones looked charred, the walls scorched and gouged as if someone- or something- had tried to claw their way through the heavy ashlar stones and, eventually, the very bedrock that the infamous 1865 courthouse stood on. The metal railings on the staircase seem to have been subjected to intense heat, causing them to soften and then reharden into twisted shapes that seem more organic than man-made. Those who take the time to look might notice what appears to be human fingerprints in the metal where someone in their last desperate attempt to escape the conflagration had grabbed the molten metal in a vain attempt to flee. ADA access is also available via a metal service elevator from the entrance just off the first-floor lobby.
Upon reaching the bottom of the staircase, the ghost hunters are directed through one of two solid metal security doors (leading into one of the two preshow rooms), and enter a slightly-rectangular stone chamber which looks, like everything else in this chillingly-eerie catacomb of death, to have been roughly constructed of heavy stones and bedrock, and had been subjected to intense heat that left the stone ceilings, floors and walls charred and scarred. The far wall, however, is of metal, a partition separating this room from what lies beyond, and this metal wall has the appearance of having been battered by something on the other side- dents, holes that have been repaired recently with hastily-riveted metal plating, and areas of scorched metal where the coat of paint that it once wore was burnt off from the other side. A white sheet, streaked with soot, hangs from the center of this metal wall. Bare light bulbs hanging from electric wires overhead cast a harsh light throughout the room.

When the room’s capacity of sixty-four people has been reached and the metal door is (loudly) slammed shut behind them, two townsfolk, dressed as members of a silent movie film crew (and who were already in the room, encouraging the new ghost hunters to come all the way in), stand up on a few boxes that have been placed against one side of the chamber.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” one of the crew members announce, “My name is Stan Hardy, director of this project. Mr. Sennett from Keystone Studios welcomes you to watch the filming of the first in what we hope is a series of films that we’re calling ‘Paranormal Nightmares.’ We’ve already completed several days of filming here in the Crypt of Fire, and I have to tell you that while we’ve seen some pretty gruesome things already, so far nothing really dangerous has happened. I guess all the ghosts that are supposed to still be down here have finally gone on to their heavenly reward. We’d like to show you a little bit of the film that we’ve edited together, to give you an idea what the final version will look like. If I can direct your attention to the screen we’ve hung on the wall over there, we’ll get the projector started. Remember, this is just a rough edit- we’ve got a lot more work to do, and we hope to get plenty more scenes filmed today. Mary?” he says to the other film crew member standing beside him, “Can you turn out the lights please?”

She steps off the box and moves through the “ghost hunters” to the door where they entered, reaches for the light switch beside it, but before she can actually touch the switch the room goes completely pitch black, an effect that never fails to elicit screams.

“Not all of them!” Stan, still on his box, hollers at Mary.

“I didn’t even touch the switch! They all went off on their own!” Mary hollered back.

“Well, can you find the switch to start the movie? That will give us some light.”

The audience hears the sound of an old movie projector starting, and they see a light overhead coming from a projector hanging from a bracket in the middle of the ceiling. It projects a black-and-white movie on the screen, providing some light and focusing the audience’s attention on the screen. Since this is a silent film, dialog cards appear to announce:




The audience watches this film, which lasts for less than a minute, most of which is the opening credits and some dialog cards that explain that the first scene is of the film crew breaking through the doorway upstairs from the lobby, allowing them to gain access to the melted staircase. They see the film crew carrying their cameras down the stairs, looking around (obviously trying to look terrified in the over-dramatic acting style of the early silent film era), when the audience notices the room they’re standing in is actually getting warmer. The ceiling is beginning to softly glow orange-red, and as the film suddenly stops (with the well-known effect of the film melting and burning through) there is a sudden pounding on the metal wall where the screen hangs.


The light bulbs on the ceiling flicker back on and off randomly- something is obviously gone very wrong.

“Mary! What’s happening!” Stan hollers to her.

“I don’t know!” she hollers back. “I can’t get the door open!” she yells as she tries to open the metal door.

Suddenly a metallic grinding is heard coming from the large metal wall where the movie screen hangs, and the metal wall begins to rise up into the ceiling. The room beyond is revealed, a chamber carved from the bedrock, its walls looking like lava that has cooled. It glows with an eerie, evil light- red, orange, yellow, slightly flickering- and it is hot, not dangerously, not even uncomfortably, but unnaturally hot. Standing in this chamber are people- not oozing, rotting zombies, not bloody or gory, but people who obviously are neither dead nor alive. They stand at the metal queue lines to guide, as wordlessly as possible, the audience into this queue area.


“This wasn’t supposed to happen!” Stan yells to the audience, as he and Mary start to direct them to enter this inner chamber.

“This has never happened before,” Mary continues, sounding nearly panicked. “ We don’t have any other way out. We thought this entire place was empty and deserted!”

The ghost hunters are guided into the queue lines which lead quickly to a row of ride vehicles that resembled small carts with seats that would be used in coal mines to move the miners in and the coal out of the mine. As the audience members are seated and secured, and just before the cars take off into the depths of the Crypt of Fire, Stan (who along with Mary has been helping get the audience members seated) calls out to them,

“Don’t worry! I’m sure that everything will be just fine. I’m sure these- uh- people are here to help...aren’t you?” he asks a particularly large, especially evil-looking undead guy, and just as the coal cars begin to move into the darkness of a tunnel, the undead guy and the rest of the undead grab Stan and Mary and carry them off, out of sight, their screams lost in the distance as the ghost hunters begin their exploration of just what actually happened here in the Crypt of Fire all those years ago.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Crypt of Fire is not a fun, happy type of dark ride. The story of the second Courthouse and of the monster judge that turned it into a house of death is shown in a series of narrated scenes, taking visitors through the very spots where the horrors occurred- and if some of the ghosts of those who lost their lives in this place of death should happen to appear to tell their story, or to show what actually happened in all of its gory details, then all the better for a true “ghost hunter.” It is a ride of terror, of remarkable special effects and of horrifying sights, where riders will witness torture, blood, cruelty and a terrifying climax that shows why this basement jail is now and will be forever called “The Crypt of Fire.” This is NOT a ride for children, and guests are strongly advised to not bring young children or even adults who might be upset by sights of violence on this ride experience. Not all of the screams heard while riding The Crypt of Fire will be coming from the ghosts as they relive their violent deaths. This is a truly intense ride experience, a permanent haunted attraction that sets the standard for haunted attractions throughout the industry.


Riders disembark from their coal cars into a simple, unadorned chamber, painted a deep reddish-black, with gaslight lanterns on the walls to direct them to the exit. They either ascend another set of staircases or may take one of several elevators up to a small hallway, just off of the first-floor lobby of the 1884 Courthouse, across the hall from the entrance to the Crypt of Fire. The staircases here are not scorched, or charred, or melted. There is no evidence of the horrors they just witnessed in the Crypt of Fire, and as they ascend to the top the colors of the walls and stairs change from the near-black at the bottom to almost white at the top. Those who just experienced what happened in the Courthouse crypt need this time to recover, to “de-stress,” to return to the world of the living.

As riders enter a short hallway leading past the Family Album counter and return to the first-floor lobby of the Courthouse, they might be curious to see where they just emerged from. If they turn around and look at the sign beside the hallway entrance, they will see the answer to their question.




James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster


Note: This is an instance where the final location of an attraction diverges from the map. The original location of the entrance to the Americana Theater and “A Trip to the Moon” was going to be located centrally on Davis Street, on the east side of Courthouse Square, where on the map its marquee and two distinctive towers can easily be seen. It was relocated before construction was begun but after the map was completed, and now is located on Jefferson Street, where it meets Davis Street, and faces south, away from the viewer. Its facade and towers face directly down Davis Street.


The first science fiction film ever made, and one of the most popular movies of the early 20th Century, was “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” (“A Trip to the Moon”), a landmark silent movie directed by the influential and innovative French director Georges Melies. This remarkable film, first shown in 1902 and now considered one of the top one hundred films of the 20th Century, was known for its unusual length (for the time) of nearly fifteen minutes, the elaborate production quality, emphasis on a coherent storyline and ground-breaking special effects. It is a film that any fan of science fiction should see at least once, and watching it here will make the storyline of this attraction much easier to follow:

Note: Many of the actors and actresses in the film were members of the famous Folies Bergere, recruited by Melies for this groundbreaking film.

After watching this film, it is important to remember that it was created in 1902, well over a century ago. No computers. No sound. It was originally filmed in black and white. Yes, it looks silly now, campy, with goofy, outrageous costumes and (to our 21st century standards) ridiculous overacting, but this film was the “Star Wars” of its time. It was revolutionary! People saw it over and over (again, rather like “Star Wars”) and it was a major international hit. After its initial release in France, every frame was hand-colored, another special effect never before seen. Would movie-goers of 1902 want to actually take “A Trip to the Moon”? Here at Americana 1900, they can.

The facade of the beautiful Americana Theater, located on the corner of Davis and Jefferson Street, is a reproduction of the 1911 Detroit Theater in Detroit, Michigan.


Inside is housed a thrilling dark ride based on “A Trip to the Moon”. Riders, here called “astronomers,” enter the elegant outer lobby of the theater, where the queue for the attraction is decorated with posters advertising the movie, each showing a different scene from the film to familiarize guests with the ride experience they will soon be enjoying. Moving into the inner lobby, theater “ushers” will distribute 3-D glasses and get the astronomers lined up and organized for boarding the ride vehicles, after which the first part of the film will be shown on a movie screen over the doors leading into the loading area.

After watching the beginning of the film, which portrays a group of astronomers planning a trip to the moon, then building a bullet-shaped vehicle to carry them there, doors open beneath the screen and the guest “astronomers” are directed to board their own spaceship, which unlike the movie vehicle is not a windowless, completely-enclosed capsule, but consists of four rows of seats, two seats per row, and has a bullet-shaped nose cone. Lap restraints will keep riders securely in their seats as the capsule moves through the ride. Actual scenes from the film are used throughout the attraction, remastered (by Triotech Amusement) to utilize modern 3-D technology, and music that is believed to have been written for the original movie will be heard throughout the ride.


The ride capsule moves forward and the scene from the movie where a “bevy of beautiful maidens” pushes the capsule into the chamber of the cannon is shown on screens overhead. The capsule continues forward and the track starts to lead upward as it enters the dark chamber of a large cannon, just as in the film. The capsule with its crew of excited astronomers suddenly accelerates forward and upward through the barrel of the cannon, as if it has been fired towards the moon.


Here some literary license is used, and the story from the movie is rearranged a bit. As the ride capsule levels out and moves through the starry darkness of space, each pair of seats pivot to the right, side-by-side, so that all of the riders can see the film scene with the comet passing by, the Big Dipper with faces in the stars, Saturn looking out the window of his planet, and finally Phoebe, goddess of the Moon, sitting on her crescent-shaped swing.


The seats all pivot to face front again, and ahead is the moon itself- actually, it’s the famous Man in the Moon, and the capsule is heading straight for his right eye, just as in the film! The capsule and its rider/astronomers recreate that famous scene where the capsule gets stuck in the eye of the Man in the Moon.


After stopping for a few seconds so that the astronomers can view close-up this famous scene of the huge eye twitching and the face reacting to this experience, the scene goes dark while the capsule passes through an opening in the moon screen, and when a pale moonlight appears the astronomers find themselves under the surface of the moon.

The pairs of seats again pivot to the right so that once again all are facing the same direction, and the astronomers see on the wall screens the film scene where they are passing through the cavern of giant mushrooms. Suddenly, they are being attacked by the Selenites, insect-like moon creatures (recreated from the film and projected on the screens). In front of each astronomer, built into the lap restraint, an umbrella (just like the ones used by the astronomers in the film) will automatically rise up and let the astronomers “shoot” the attacking aliens.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
These umbrellas have triggers on the handles, and are actually light guns that can be aimed at the screens where the attacking Selenites are projected. The vehicles continue to move past the screens as scenes from the film and the attacking aliens are displayed. When a shot from a light gun umbrella hits a Selenite in just the right spot, it “explodes” into a cloud of dust, just as in the film, and points are awarded to the astronomers depending on the accuracy of each hit, and is registered on a counter in front of the rider. After the astronomers escape from the aliens, it is time to return to Earth. The umbrellas automatically return to their original locations and the ride capsule prepares for the return voyage to Earth. The screen shows the portion of the film where the capsule is being pushed off the edge of the moon to fall back to earth- and then it happens to the ride capsule itself!


The section of the track holding the ride capsule is a free-fall drop track, and when the film shows the capsule plummeting towards the Earth, the track drops forty feet straight down (one of the longest drop-track drops in the world), and lands in the ocean (with the use of splash-down water effects, lighting and the film scene with the capsule under the sea with fish and other aquatic creatures swimming around). The ride capsule then continues towards the finale of the film and ride, showing the capsule in the film being towed by a paddlewheel steamship back to land.


The ride capsule then enters the “dock” where a large screen shows the triumphal return of the astronomers, the parade held for them in the film, and a photo of the winning astronomer is displayed. The Astronomers then exit the ride capsule and pass through the exit lobby to the gift shop and Family Album counter.

“A Trip to the Moon” is the film that brought science fiction to the 20th century, and is now a thrilling, slightly silly but wonderfully fun dark ride to experience and enjoy in Courthouse Square at Americana 1900.





Well-Known Member
In the Parks
When a shot from a light gun umbrella hits a Selenite in just the right spot, it “explodes” into a cloud of dust, just as in the film, and points are awarded to the astronomers depending on the accuracy of each hit, and is registered on a counter in front of the rider.
I assume this counter would be physical? (As opposed to the usual screen-based solutions.) I personally think it’d be an excellent touch to use a mechanical-style ticker:

(Like one of these, but perhaps wooden and probably bigger.)

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I assume this counter would be physical? (As opposed to the usual screen-based solutions.) I personally think it’d be an excellent touch to use a mechanical-style ticker:
View attachment 626704
(Like one of these, but perhaps wooden and probably bigger.)
Absolutely! This is the perfect addition to the historic feeling of the entire park, especially this attraction.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The Last National Bank and Funeral Service Presents “Ghost Town Square” (AAP)


When a banker’s only daughter marries the local mortician, the result is the unusual business located on the corner of Jefferson Street and South Maple Grove Road, the “Last National Bank and Funeral Service”, whose motto is “Where You CAN Take It With You!” From a distance, it looks like a typical, stately three-story bank building, and is inspired by the First National Bank building of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, constructed in 1927. As visitors get closer they notice some strange features of the building’s exterior ornamentation. Unlike the building it is based on, however, it is constructed entirely of black granite, the eerily-carved cornice at the top of the building depicts a series of skulls and crossbones, and the carved ornamentation around the coffin-shaped windows depicts ropes, elegantly draped over the top of the windows and ending with hangman’s nooses hanging down on either side of the heavily-iron-barred windows.
This is the entrance to Americana 1900’s family-themed answer to “The Crypt of Fire,” a delightfully silly, barely spooky dark ride where visitors descend under the streets of this Township and discover “Ghost Town Square.” Visitors entering this unusual business are not sure if they are standing in the lobby of a bank or a funeral home- the teller’s windows are hinged, gate-like openings in what appears to be wrought-iron cemetery fencing embedded into refurbished (or possibly reused) coffins, and large baskets of wilting floral arrangements (reminiscent of those found in funeral homes) flank a large, dusty desk behind a low railed divider to one side of the lobby. This is the desk of B.R.M. Deeper, the Bank President and Funeral Director (according to the dusty, cobweb-covered nameplate on the corner of the desk).


The ride queue leads guests through this unusual room, past these and other odd mixtures of high finance and mortuary science, and eventually through the massive open door of the bank vault into the vault itself. The vault doesn’t contain the usual safety deposit boxes or bags of money- it’s actually the inside of a mausoleum! The dearly departed who are interred here are certainly safe for all eternity, or at least until the bank should fail or be bought out!


At the far end of this mausoleum is another vault, a private mausoleum such as would belong to an important family in an outdoor cemetery. The front of the vault is open, and the queue line enters the vault and proceeds down a flight of stairs into the basement of the bank- er, funeral home- er, whatever it is. There is also an ADA elevator to one side, with a sign over the door that originally said “Embalming Room,” but the first word has a line drawn through it and the word “Elevator” is scrawled over and above it.

Here, in the basement of the bank, visitors discover an entrance, not to a dreary cellar or a terrifying torture chamber like exists under the Courthouse, but a community, a “spirited” community that mimics Courthouse Square above it. This is Ghost Town Square, inhabited by about 1900 ghosts, goblins and things that go “bump” in the night. Here, the ghosts are all friendly, the goblins are all happy, and the things that go “bump” don’t do so to scare anyone- they’re just a bit clumsy. While waiting in the queue, visitors are introduced via screens that resemble mirrors built into the walls of the bank basement to Pepper, a young (if ghosts can be young), very pretty but very precocious ghost who will be their guide throughout the exploration of Ghost Town Square.


“When I was alive, my real first name was Penelope, but everyone called me ‘Pepper’ for some...some...A-choo!!” she suddenly sneezes. “Excuse me! They always called me Pepper for some reason. Anyway, I know everybody in Ghost Town Square and everybody knows me! I can’t WAIT to introduce all you nice-looking living people from up above to my friends down here, and who knows? Maybe some of you might want to stay here after you see our little town. Since the zombies are always wandering off looking for fresh brains -when they’re not totally going to pieces!- we always have room for some new residents!”

Pepper has several short segments to entertain visitors as they wait in the queue. The most important one is about the ride safety instructions, where she explains about the ride vehicles, the safety bars and how riders need to keep their hands, arms, legs, head and any extra bones inside the ride at all times.


“The zombies are always looking out for a snack, or even a spare part or two, so keep all of your body parts inside after you board your Ghost Town Taxi.”
The ride vehicles on this family-friendly dark ride consist of six-passenger wagons (three rows of two seats) that appear to be converted hearses, and are preceded through the ride by animatronic skeletal horses that seem to be pulling the wagons. Once the zombie ride operators (some more recently dead than others) have their living riders seated and secured in their hearse, er, taxi, the horse skeleton begins to “pull” the wagon out of the basement and into Ghost Town Square. The riders soon discover that they’re not going through the basements of the Courthouse Square perimeter buildings, but through a ghostly version of the actual businesses above, up in the living world, and they’re watching the ghostly residents of Ghost Town Square just going about their daily lives- er- deaths. The course this ride takes follows the streets of Courthouse Square above, and the businesses of Ghost Town Square mimic the businesses in the world of the living- in their own unique, undead way. As the carriages pass the location of the Mary Mac Tea Room, they see a restaurant that looks vaguely like the one above, but instead of the clean and colorful restaurant of the living, the Ghost Town Mary Mac’s is painted shades of drab gray, with plenty of cobwebs and dead plants. Ghosts are dining on chicken that is nothing but bones, on dinner rolls that are covered with mold, and they are enjoying every ghastly mouthful- that is until Pepper suddenly appears and grabs the pepper shaker from the table and shakes some onto their ghostly meal. The ghosts suddenly sneeze so hard that they sneeze Pepper right through the wall into the next scene! The Ghost Town version of the Orpheum Theater (here called the Offaleum Theater) is filled with ghosts watching a zombie-inspired production of “Vaudeville”, with the zombie dancers trying to tap dance (with Pepper appearing in the middle of the dance line) while some of their zombie body parts are falling off. Nearly every business and attraction in Courthouse Square (with the exception of the Unity Chapel) is featured in this silly, ghostly trip, and Pepper follows along with the riders, often appearing in the middle of the action. She joins the barbershop quartet in the barbershop (singing base!); she appears with the Selenites (zombie Selenites, of course), and when they try to scare her she scares them instead and they run away in the same silly, overdramatic fashion as in the film “A Trip to the Moon.” Pepper has as much fun showing her town (and showing off for her new living friends) as the riders have discovering the Ghost Town Square beneath the streets of Courthouse Square. Pepper and her ghost friends fly in and out of the windows of the Americana County “Corpsehouse,” and happy families of werewolves enjoy “eye scream cones'' in “Grave Uncle Jimmie’s Eye Scream Shop.” The “Gravestone Cops'' are chasing ghostly robbers in, out and through the County Jail, and a skeletal brass band is performing in the Ghost Town Square Bandstand!


Throughout the entire attraction, riders hear versions of the musical theme song of the entire experience, “There’s Always Room for One More!”, one of those earworm-type melodies that stays in their ear (and mind) long after they’ve finished exploring the “square-beneath-the-square.” The Ghost Town Taxi returns the living riders- those that haven’t decided to stay behind- to the basement of the Last National Bank and Funeral Parlor, where they see a sign directing them to stairs leading to the “Realm of the Living- Three Flights Up” or to several elevators. At the top of the stairs, guests enter the “Estate Sale Gift Shop and Family Album Visitation Parlor.” After making their purchases and selecting the photos taken throughout the ride, visitors returned to the world of the living and Courthouse Square.

Pepper’s Ghost technology is used extensively in this attraction, which holds the Guinness world record for the largest use of the technology. Complex animatronics, detailed scenery with integrated high-quality projection screens, a musical score that adds to the fun and silliness of the ghosts and their friends, the ingratiating charm of Pepper as she guides her corporeal friends through her deceased hometown, and careful attention to keeping the ghostly adventure light-hearted and family-friendly make a visit to “Ghost Town Square” something not to be missed by any visitor to Americana 1900.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Gulf Coast and Santa Fe Railroad Courthouse Square/Green Springs Station


The south end of Railroad Street is the location of the Courthouse Square/Green Springs Station of the GC&SF Railroad. The station itself stands at the end of the street, with the passenger platform for the departures queue extending westward behind the South Entrance Building and for arrivals extending in front of the station, where stairs and ramps lead directly onto Railroad Street.


This railroad station is much more industrial in design than the other railroad stations in Americana 1900, which is appropriate considering it was originally built to facilitate the shipping of metal products for the steel factory that first occupied the site of Green Springs. It was cleaned considerably when the health spa was established and it became the main arrival depot for the often wealthy guests, but they had arrived to enjoy the mineral waters, not the railroad station, so excessive ornamentation was deemed unnecessary. Simple efficiency was more important to the arriving guests.


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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Courthouse Square Bandstand


An elegant wooden bandstand occupies the center of the northeast lawn on Courthouse Square. Regularly scheduled concerts by the Americana Brass Band are given here, along with special performances by visiting musical groups from high schools and colleges from throughout the nation.


The Orpheum Theater


Note: The next section is a complete presentation of a live vaudeville show. One way to say it is to state that it is a detailed description, vividly presented to share with you a historic, unique theatrical production of the Americana 1900 era. Another way to say it is to say that it is long. It’s both, so for the sake of comfort I will split it into two sections: today’s episode will be the history of that nearly forgotten form of theatre called “Vaudeville,” then tomorrow will be the actual show. Pretend that today’s episode is the part where you arrive at the Orpheum Theater, find your seat and are glancing through the program (which you actually would not get at a vaudeville show). Tomorrow, the lights will dim, the overture will start and the curtain will rise. If you want the full experience, wait until tomorrow, get your popcorn ready, get comfortable in your theater seat, and immerse yourself in:



How about that for a title?! This is the kind of grandiose prose that a good publicist would use to draw audiences into theaters and music halls across America during the approximately fifty years when vaudeville was the most popular form of live entertainment, roughly from the early 1880s to the early 1930s. For convenience sake though, let's just call it "Vaudeville!"

(yes, it’s time for another history lesson)

Vaudeville evolved from a wide variety of theatrical forms, including minstrel shows, the circus, freak shows, and concert saloons. It was aimed at the "family" audience, and before the age of radio and movies with sound ("talkies") it provided entertainment for people of all ages across the country. A traditional vaudeville show was usually composed of eight or nine acts, totally unrelated to each other, and the performers would travel around the country on various professional "circuits", always hoping to work their way up from playing small theaters in small towns (the small time) up to medium-sized cities (the medium time) and eventually, with some luck and talent, finally make it big- the "Big Time"- performing in major cities in such famous vaudeville theaters as the Palace Theater in New York City.

Every community of any size in 1900 America had at least one vaudeville theater (which would occasionally include a silent movie in the billing), and Americana 1900 is no exception. Along with the Americana Theater (where "A Trip to the Moon" is showing), Courthouse Square also is the home of the Orpheum Theater, the home of the "finest vaudeville entertainment to be found south of the Mason-Dixon Line." The Orpheum Theater (part of the Orpheum Circuit of vaudeville theaters that operated from 1886 to 1927) is an elegant structure of Beaux-Art design with tastefully fashioned terra-cotta ornamentation in shades of yellow, orange and brown, and a dramatic marquee welcoming guests to one of the four performances of “Vaudeville” given daily. The entrance facade and marquee are inspired by the Ritz Theater in Tiffin, Ohio, built in 1928 -slightly outside the era of Americana 1900, but still a beautiful example of theater architecture of the early 20th century.


Theater-goers enter the marble-clad outer lobby through four sets of double doors, and are greeted by ushers who direct them to the right towards the inner lobby. Doors leading into the main auditorium are directly ahead, and on either side of the inner lobby marble staircases with brass railings provide access to the balcony and boxes upstairs. There is also an ADA elevator located here for balcony access.


The auditorium of the Orpheum Theater seats a total of approximately 1,000 guests in its orchestra, balcony and the four boxes that flank the stage (two boxes on each side, one up and one down at stage level). The decorative scheme of the interior of the theater is one of tasteful if restrained elegance. It is not nearly as ornate as the later "atmospheric" theaters of the 1920s, but the walls are painted with beautiful murals of classical statuary in an Italian garden with slender pine trees reaching to the sky painted on the shallow dome overhead. Attractive chandeliers, plush carpeting and comfortable seating all contribute to the elegance of the Orpheum.


Why is it important to describe the interior decoration of the theater? Because the theater itself was part of the experience. Theatergoers wanted to be both entertained and pampered- entertained by a constantly changing roster of talented performers and pampered in an elegant theater that made them feel special and important.

Technically, theatre has made major advances since 1900. Electric stage lighting was in its infancy then, with most stage lights coming from either directly over the casts' heads or from a row of light bulbs along the front of the stage, the "footlights". This gave the performers a very strange, almost ghost-like appearance, an effect which might be included in part of a modern performance for historical purposes but not for the entire show. Modern stage lighting will be used for a majority of the production, as will modern sound amplification to improve audience enjoyment of the show. However, no prerecorded music will be used. A live pit orchestra will be used for all performances and will provide accompaniment for all acts.

Vaudeville shows were variety shows, with no plot or theme running throughout the show. Each act was an entity unrelated to the others in the show (however, this production does use a very thin "storyline" to make it more accessible to modern audiences). In the place of programs given to the audience members, placards or signs announcing each act in the show were placed on an easel or sign holder on one side of the stage, and someone (usually an attractive female wearing an outfit just barely within the rules of propriety) would come out and change the signs announcing each act throughout the show.

"Vaudeville!" merges the fun and variety of a traditional vaudeville show of 1900 with the tastes and expectations of modern audiences in a form that will "educate, edify, amaze and uplift" the thousands of theatergoers who will see it daily in the Orpheum Theater.

Now that you know what vaudeville is, it’s time to take your seats, turn off your cell phone (they didn’t exist in 1900 anyway), and prepare to discover what an evening spent at the theater was like for your great-grandparents.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Once the audience has entered the auditorium and found their seats, the house lights begin to dim as the footlights across the front of the stage illuminate the beautiful red velvet theater curtain, trimmed with gold fringe. An elegantly-embroidered golden monogram of the letters “AOT” (for Americana Orpheum Theater) ornaments the center of the curtain. The musicians in the orchestra pit begin the Overture, a medley of such "popular hits" as "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?" (1902), "Harrigan" (1907), "In the Good Old Summertime" (1902) and "Give My Regards to Broadway" (1904). At the conclusion of the overture, a lovely young lady comes out from off-stage right, goes to the sign easel standing on the down-stage right corner of the stage, and reveals the sign announcing the first act of the show:


The curtain rises on a tasteful stage set of columns and hanging foliage. The Tintypes Quintet, comprised of three women and two men, perform a medley of music from the era, very reminiscent of this scene from the Broadway musical of the same name:

The Olio Curtain is lowered at the end of the act. This is a curtain hanging six feet back from the red velvet theater curtain, and is used to allow scenery and props to be reset behind it while another act that does not need much playing space performs in front of it, or to use theater jargon, performs "in one". Unlike the heavily fringed and elegant main theater curtain, the Olio (whose name is derived from "oil cloth") is painted with advertisements for local businesses found throughout Americana 1900. This is not a cheap gimmick invented for this park, but was a standard tool of advertising before radio and television existed.


(The "Sign Girl" comes out and changes the sign, as she does with each act)



(played "in one")

Charlie Seersucker is a rather ridiculous-looking performer, with clothes that are a bit too tight, pants that are too short, and a routine that is just plain awful. He specializes in bad one-liners and even worse puns, but the jokes are just good enough to keep the audience entertained until the main sight gag of his routine, and the basis of the running joke throughout the show, can be established. He starts his routine:

"There was a beautiful young woman knocking on my hotel room door all last night! I finally had to let her out."

"I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the train station."

(from stage right a long wooden hook, similar to a large shepherd's crook, reaches out to try to "hook" Charlie and try to pull him off the stage. This was a standard bit of stage business, especially to get really bad acts off the stage- the proverbial "getting the hook". Charlie sees it and continues his routine, moving stage left away from the hook while continuing with the bad jokes. The hook can only reach about half-way across the stage and can't quite reach him.)

"My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time, I stayed in the bathroom and cried."

"My wife was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off."

(Charlie has let down his guard and doesn't see another hook coming out from stage left. After his next joke:

"A drunk is in front of a judge. The judge says, 'You've been brought here for drinking.' The drunk says, 'Okay, let's get started!'"

(the hook from stage left hooks Charlie and pulls him sputtering and objecting off stage. The sign is changed to:



The Olio curtain rises and the Contini Family Jugglers are in their routine. The six members are talented performers, doing a wide variety of juggling routines using balls, clubs and rings, sometimes while balancing on large balls. Right in the middle of the routine, Charlie runs back out on stage to try to continue his routine in the middle of the juggling. He stands down center on the stage, in front of the jugglers and says to the audience (over the music from the orchestra and the protests of the jugglers):

"A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't afford to pay his bill, so the doctor gave him another six months!"

The jugglers switched their juggling from clubs and balls to knives, moved down stage to either side of Charlie and proceed to throw the knives back and forth in front and behind him, scaring him to death and causing him to drop to the floor, crawl to the edge of the stage and jump into the orchestra pit to escape the flying knives! They finish their act with a dramatic juggling demonstration and take their bows as the Olio curtain comes in.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster


This tastefully-dressed duo comes out to sing a medley of songs such as "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" (1905), "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" (1910) and "Shine On, Harvest Moon" (1907). In the middle of the medley, from the orchestra pit, the audience hears Charlie still trying to tell jokes. He hollers from the depths of the pit, right on top of the singing on stage:

"A patient tells a doctor, "Doctor, I have a ringing in my ears!" The doctor tells the patient, "So answer it!"

The performers hear this, try to continue with their songs, but when Charlie starts to tell another joke, Blanche- never missing a beat or a note- nonchalantly moves stage left, reaches off-stage and brings on a pitcher of water, and in the middle of the joke she carefully dumps the water onto Charlie in the pit. We hear him sputter and stop the joke in mid-sentence, apparently soaked by Blanche, who hands the pitcher off-stage, returns to Fredrick and they finish their medley. They take their bows and exit stage right as the Olio rises on:​



Two huge bodybuilders wearing tight outfits to show off their muscles and physiques proceed to perform acts of strength, both in lifting heavy weights and each other, and often "flexing" for the ladies in the audience (but always tastefully). As their act proceeds, we see Charlie climbing out of the orchestra pit, rather wet from the soaking that Blanche gave him but still trying to finish his terrible act. He goes center stage in front of the bodybuilders, not noticing who or what they are. He gets ready to tell another joke when Gus and Gus see him and move down to flank him on either side. Without saying a word (which they never do during their entire act) they pick him up and carry him almost off stage, then physically throw him off stage left. The audience hears a crash and the sounds of objects falling, glass breaking, etc. as Charlie lands off-stage. Gus and Gus finish their act, take a muscular tableaux and the Olio comes down.



A troupe of nine tap-dancing young ladies dance onto the stage, tapping to the tune "In My Merry Oldsmobile" (1905). These talented dancers "flap, ball change and shuffle" in a high-energy routine that fills the stage in front of the Olio, but suddenly they realize that there are ten dancers! Charlie has joined in at the end of the line, tapping along with them (and doing a pretty good job of keeping up!) while saying to the audience:
"A bum asked a guy "Hey buddy, give me $10 until payday. The guy asked him, "When's payday?" The bum responded, "I don't know! You're the one working!"

The dancers suddenly go into a series of high chorus-line kicks and end up kicking Charlie right off stage left. They finish their number and "shuffle off to Buffalo" stage right.



With the Olio curtain still in and the dancers off stage, Charlie suddenly runs back on from stage left to center, desperate to finish his act (and looking the worse for wear). As soon as he reaches center stage, we hear barking from stage left and several dogs come charging onto the stage, chasing the terrified Charlie off stage right before he has a chance to say anything.

The dogs return to the stage and join George Sherwood and the rest of his dogs in this high-quality act of dogs trained to perform, obey commands, and thoroughly entertain the audience. The Olio rises and the props needed by the dogs for their act are in place. Towards the middle of the act Charlie is seen trying to sneak onto the stage but one of the dogs spots him, starts to growl menacingly, and Charlie turns and escapes back off-stage, but not before the audience notices that he has a large portion of his pants torn off, including a large hole in his rear end showing his ugly-patterned boxer shorts.

The Olio curtain comes down and we see the dogs come back across the stage "in one", crossing the stage and taking their commands from Mr. Sherwood, stopping on command, rolling over, playing dead, etc. across the stage. Following them, and doing the same routine as the dogs, is- you guessed it- Charlie. The dogs exit stage left followed by Charlie, who instead of exiting hides in front of one of the downstage curtain legs, waiting for one last chance to finish his routine. The Olio rises on the stage, which has been reset for:



Magisto is a very talented magician, performing many of the traditional magic tricks so popular with audiences. He starts out with some simple card tricks, pulling rabbits out of hats, etc., then proceeds (with the help of his lovely assistant Thelma) with some more elaborate magic acts. Master Magisto and Thelma move upstage to where several large magic act boxes, trunks, etc. are located. As they move upstage, Charlie sees his opportunity for one last shot at comedy stardom and rushes downstage center to tell the audience:
"A boy comes home from school and tells his father he has a part in the school play. The father asks, "What part is it?" the boy says, "I play the part of the husband." The father scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."

Magisto and Thelma see what is going on, look at each other, and grab a large burlap bag from a large trunk. Just as Charlie finishes his joke, they pull the bag over his head and his entire body, drag him over to the trunk and put him inside the trunk, making sure that they have tied the bag shut so that he can't get out of it. Charlie, inside the bag, is struggling to get out and loudly complaining, but it's of no use. He is in the trunk, the trunk is locked with a padlock, and Magisto asks an audience member in the front row to hold the key so that Charlie can't get out and spoil the rest of the act. Thelma takes the key to the audience member- preferably a male- and demurely but obviously flirts with him a bit before leading him up to the stage to hold the key in full sight of the audience.

Magisto and Thelma now do the classic magic trick where she is placed in an upright box, the door is closed, Magisto slides solid metal sheets through parts of the box and then rearranges the boxes. He opens doors in each box section to show that Thelma is now separated into four different pieces: her feet are now in the top box, next her torso, then her head, then her legs, then he closes the doors. He spins the boxes around to show all sides, then rearranges the boxes to put Thelma back together again. He removes the metal sheets, opens the front of the entire box- and Charlie is inside the box!! Charlie steps out, looking a bit confused, then is grabbed by Magisto angrily. Magisto grasps him by his oversized lapels and demands "Where is Thelma?!" The terrified Charlie can't speak, but just points to the trunk. Magisto shoves Charlie aside, goes over to the audience member and demands to know, "Did you ever give anyone the key?" The audience member denies it and hands it over to Magisto, who rushes over to the trunk, unlocks the padlock, throws the lid open and someone in the still-tied bag stands up from inside the trunk. Magisto unties the bag, and it drops open, revealing Thelma!
Magisto stands there stunned, then goes over to Charlie and demands to be told how he did that. Charlie, now looking rather smug, asks, "Will you let me finish my act?" Magisto, with a pained look, agrees and gestures to Charlie to go downstage and finish his act of bad jokes. Charlie moves rather proudly downstage center, the Olio curtain is lowered, the spotlight hits Charlie, and Charlie starts to open his mouth. Suddenly, with a look of horror, he realizes something. He exclaims to the audience,

"Oh, no! I'm all out of jokes!"

(rim shot and blackout)

Last edited:

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Olio is raised, the stage has been cleared of the magic props and the entire cast of Vaudeville! has gathered on the stage. Charlie, now acting as the Master of Ceremonies, moves downstage as the rest of the cast joins him. He thanks the audience for their joining them in this celebration of the vaudeville theatre, and the orchestra breaks into a rousing rendition of "It's a Grand Old Flag" (1906).


A large American flag of 1900 ( with 45 stars) is lowered behind the cast filling the stage, the cast starts waving small matching flags and begins to sing the song, then a signboard is flown in over the cast with the lyrics to the song on it. Charlie encourages the audience to join in with the cast, and to "follow the bouncing ball" of a spotlight on the lyrics (in case some don't know the words), and the show ends with a burst of red, white and blue streamers being shot out over and onto the now standing, clapping and cheering audience, an audience filled with a surge of patriotism and appreciation for this unique form of American theater- Vaudeville!




James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Harvey House Restaurant at Courthouse Square (HDP)


At the western end of Main Street, where it intersects with Railroad Street, is the Courthouse Square location of the Harvey House Restaurants, operating directly adjacent to the GC&SF Railroad Station. This stately two-story brick structure, with a simple limestone cornice and Ionic capitals on its unusual brick columns, once housed the business offices of the Northern Alabama Iron Works. After the factory closed and the buildings were purchased and converted into the Green Springs Health Spa, the offices were remodeled into the home of the owner of the spa. As Green Springs changed its focus from a health spa to a water recreation center and was eventually incorporated into Americana 1900, this beautiful mansion was once again renovated, this time as part of the Harvey House chain of restaurants.


The interior decor is elegant yet comfortable, reflecting its recent incarnation as a family home. The dining rooms on the first floor retain their original names- the formal parlor, the family living room, the formal dining room, the breakfast room, etc., and while the decor may be more formal and elegant than the homey, relaxed furnishings of the Maple Grove Harvey House, the atmosphere is still warm and welcoming. Crystal chandeliers and matching wall sconces, perhaps originally lit by gas but now converted to the “new-fangled electricity,” provide unique lighting in every room. The window treatments are of rich velvets, the curtains are of fine lace, the reproduction period wallpaper is unique in every room, and the walls are decorated with paintings and fine prints of historic Harvey House Restaurants found throughout the nation. Every room has a fireplace, a clock on the mantle or hanging on a wall someplace in the room (to keep the railroad passengers apprised of the time until their train departs) and if a guest at the Harvey House Restaurant at Courthouse Square hadn’t just arrived by train, they would think they were perhaps having dinner in a middle-to-upper class family’s home, rather than in a popular restaurant by a train station.


The menu in the Harvey House Restaurant at Courthouse Square features fresh seafood, along with many other dishes aimed at a “more refined palate,” and as at all Harvey House Restaurants is based on original Harvey House menus and dishes. Along with the basic menu and the “favorites” described at the Maple Grove location, the Blue Plate specials on the special menu here include:


The extensive lunch and dinner menu options make it easy for everyone, regardless of their appetite or taste preferences, to find a delicious, satisfying meal at the Harvey House Restaurant at Courthouse Square.


Mary Mac’s Tea Room (HDP)


The original Mary Mac’s Tea Room is the oldest tea room in Atlanta and a landmark dining institution in the South. The Courthouse Square location is the first location outside of the original one in Atlanta. Many of the original items are still on the menu and are still served up with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality. Along with the menu, another original feature of Mary Mac’s that is continued at the Courthouse Square location is the way that the guests write up their own orders themselves using pencils and order forms on the table. The idea was that the guest would always get what they ordered, and that the server would never make a mistake with their order. This idea may seem unusual but it has worked for decades in Atlanta and continues to do so in Americana 1900.


The menu is pure Southern cooking: appetizers such as Brunswick stew, fried green tomatoes and spicy deep-fried “mudbugs” (Louisiana crawfish), entrees like fried, baked or grilled chicken, barbequed ribs, catfish and braised oxtails, and desserts like peach cobbler, banana or bread pudding and strawberry shortcake.


The servings are plentiful, the service is Southern hospitality at its best, and the setting with a magnificent view of the Courthouse is a benefit without price, making a meal at Mary Mac’s a highlight of a visit to Courthouse Square and Americana 1900.

*Note: The location of the original building that inspired the design for the Courthouse Square Mary Mac Tea Room building is unknown. During research for the design of the Courthouse Square buildings, an untitled photograph was discovered, and the uniqueness of the building’s series of bay windows and round corner turret with its conical roof was selected as an important example of period urban architectural design. It is hoped that further research and perhaps information provided by a visitor to Courthouse Square might someday reveal the true location of the original building and the recognition of its architect.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Uncle Jimmie’s Ice Cream Shop


Sharing a building with the Gillies Rexall Store* is Uncle Jimmie’s Ice Cream Shop, where visitors to Courthouse Square can come in after a long day of shopping and exploring the attractions of this Township to cool off, rest their feet and refresh themselves with an ice cream sundae, a chocolate shake, a root beer float or any number of delicious ice cream creations. The flavors of ice cream available may be limited to more traditional ones compared to what can be found in modern ice cream shops, but the ice cream is homemade, rich, creamy and hand-scooped. The root beer uses a traditional recipe and is not the heavily-carbonated style of today, but instead relies on the flavors of its natural ingredients to produce a hearty, robust taste that isn’t masked by excessive carbonation.


The cones are not the mass-produced, flavorless cones sold in boxes in modern grocery stores, but are hand-made by rolling still-warm wafers over cone-shaped forms. The sundaes are served in glass sundae dishes, the chocolate syrup has actual chocolate in it (no artificial flavors allowed), and the peanuts on top of the Tin Roof are freshly roasted in the shop. From a single scoop of vanilla ice cream (flavored with seeds of vanilla beans that you can actually see in the ice cream) to a gigantic banana split that can satisfy a family of four (or two teenagers in love), Uncle Jimmie's Ice Cream Shop is a treat for the entire family to enjoy.


*See the description of the Gillies Rexall Store for historic information on the structure.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Before the advent of shopping centers, shopping malls and discount outlets, the downtown district of any city, town or village was the place to go to find just about anything you needed. If the local courthouse was the center of the county’s judicial activity, the streets around it were the center of the town’s commercial and social life. Here in Americana, this is still true.

We will once again take a stroll around Courthouse Square, retracing our earlier steps and discovering the remarkable variety of goods and services available to both the residents of Americana and the visitors from around the world who just happen to have discovered this historic celebration of American history. The first series of shops are actually located in the Theodore Roosevelt Hotel building, but in most cases occupy just a portion of the hotel’s first floor, fronting on Main Street. Their facades front the entire street side of the hotel, with the second and third-floor hotel room windows appearing to be part of the building occupied by the business operating out of the first floor. These hotel rooms overlook Courthouse Square but are entirely separate from the Courthouse Square businesses beneath them.

“Note: The actual historic buildings recreated in Courthouse Square were chosen after the completion of the map, and therefore do not necessarily match their appearance on the map.”

“Note: The Pony Express Package Pickup Service is available from all shops in Americana 1900 to deliver purchases to all resort hotels and to both admission gates, and all stores will hold purchases for all hotel guests and park visitors not wishing to use the Pony Express service.”


Chad’s Iron Horse Shop


The first shop we come to, on the corner of Main and Railroad Streets, is located in the Art Gallery Building, originally built in 1877 as Crossett’s Drug Store in Constantine, Michigan. Here, it has been heightened by one story. Chad’s Iron Horse Shop is a railroad enthusiast’s dream world of railroad-themed books, games and toys.


Model railroad enthusiasts, or those just beginning to create their own railroad layouts in their basement back home, can find just about anything they need for their scale-model train sets here.



Sawyer and Finn’s Quality Books


No downtown business district would be complete without a bookstore. Here on Courthouse Square is Sawyer and Finn’s Quality Books, which sells a carefully selected and displayed collection of hardback and paperback books. The titles cover a wide range of subjects, emphasizing but not limited to historic topics and titles. Fiction novels, military history, decorative arts and cookbooks are just a few of the categories featured in this classical bookstore, located in the 1895 J.G. Schmohl Building from Galena, Illinois. The interior is filled with rows of solid wooden shelving, and provides several comfortably overstuffed chairs for readers to enjoy.


The window displays are often changed to show off the latest editions of such classics as “Tom Sawyer,” “Rufus Estes’ Good Things to Eat” (the 1911 edition), and “Fearsome Critters” by Henry H. Tryon (first published in 1939, but based on nineteenth-century folk tales from American lumberjacks. This book is the source of Americana 1900’s most iconic collection of I.P.s). An extensive list of books not stocked but available can be researched and ordered by shoppers with the help of the booksellers that keep the shelves stocked and the shoppers happy with their new-found literary treasurers.


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
This Old Thing Vintage Apparel
Sharing the J.G Schmohl Building with Sawyer and Finn’s next door is This Old Thing Vintage Apparel, where guests can find period-original men’s and women’s garments and accessories for purchase, and a line of reproductions based on vintage garments too fragile to be worn any longer. Clothing from everyday work clothes to “Sunday morning go-to-meeting” outfits based on original period garments can be found here. Custom tailoring is available, and special orders can be arranged from a wide collection of period catalogs. Patterns are also available for the do-it-yourself seamstress or tailor, and a selection of garb is available for rental for those guests who wish to totally immerse themselves into the era of Americana 1900.


This Old Thing is associated with the Americana Wedding Service, and offers wedding dresses and accessories inspired by the elegance of the Victorian and Edwardian fashion era. Gentlemen’s tailored suits and accouterments are also available here for weddings and other formal occasions. Americana 1900 offers complete wedding packages, including wedding services and receptions. Contact the Americana Wedding Service office.

From accuracy-obsessed period reenactors to those who just like to relive the romance of the Gilded Age, “This Old Thing” is the place to go for the latest fashions of 1900.


The next business on Courthouse Square is Uncle Jimmie’s Ice Cream Shop, previously described.


Gillies Rexall Store


In 1902, the precursor of the Rexall chain of drug store franchises was founded, and for decades it was nearly impossible to not find a Rexall Drug Story on a busy downtown street corner in every American town. Times changed, big chains began their domination of the drug store business, and the Rexall name faded into the past except for some proprietary items sold under that name by some discount stores. Here on Courthouse Square, though, on the corner of Main Street and the entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt Hotel, the Rexall name still is displayed proudly over the entrance to this large shop. Located in a recreation of the historic 1883 Joseph R. Peebles’ Sons Grocery building from the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati (and sharing it with Uncle Jimmie’s Ice Cream Shop), this Rexall store is not a licensed pharmacy, but still sells a variety of over-the-counter medications and health care needs for guests who rode one-too-many coasters or didn’t reapply their sunscreen often enough and got a bit “toasted’ in the Alabama sun.


A licensed healthcare professional is on duty to advise visitors, and a beautifully restored pharmacy of 1903, with all of its hundreds of glass bottles, delicate scales and marble mortar and pestles is on display along one wall, making Gillies Rexall both a customer service and a historic attraction.


Nicholas and Elf’s Christmas Store


Located on the opposite corner from Gillies Rexall Store is one of the largest shops in Courthouse Square, and the only one that has two floors of sales space. Here in an elegant reconstruction of the 1885 First National Bank of Pasadena, California, it’s a “turn of the century” Christmas year-round, with an amazing selection of elegant ornaments, lights, garlands and trees.


Reproduction Christmas cards, paper decorations, wreaths and manger scenes can also be found here, many displayed in settings recreated from period illustrations. Hand-blown glass ornaments, hand-crafted “feather trees” and hundreds of kits for creating your own jeweled Christmas ornaments make shopping at “Nicholas and Elfs” a festive occasion year-round.


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Main Street Photography Studio


Most photography studios from the turn of the last century would have been located on the top floor of a building, with an enormous skylight and south-facing windows to get the maximum amount of natural light needed for the long exposures that period cameras required. For guest convenience, Main Street Photography Studio is located on the first floor of the 1877 Wilton Building, from Constantine, Michigan, here heightened to three stories. The actual photography studio, however, is designed to recreate the feeling of being inside a large, glass-enclosed room, and is filled with prop tables, chairs, backdrops and other scenery pieces.


The studio provides an extensive selection of period garb and settings for sepia photographs of visitors who want a period-appropriate photographic memoir of their visit to Americana 1900. A variety of photographic packages are available, some included in the Americana Wedding Program. A few lucky guests may even have their photos included in The Faces of America nighttime show presented in Courthouse Square on select evenings (to be discussed later in this presentation).


The next three businesses, Eagle Barber Shop, Shades of the Past and Teddy’s Bear Fair, are located in a recreation of the 1874 Wisler House Block from Tiffin, Ohio.


The original building (better known as the Gibson Hotel by Tiffin residents) was four stories tall (lowered by one floor for Courthouse Square), and after a major renovation still serves the Founder of Americana’s hometown as a boutique hotel and retail location. Here, like all the shops on Main Street in Courthouse Square, its upper floors serve the same function as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Hotel.

Eagle Barber Shop


Eagle Barber Shop is a three-seater, old-fashioned barbershop with three old-fashioned barbers providing “tonsorial services” to guests in need of a trim or a shave. While no longer offering a “shave and a haircut- two bits,” the prices are reasonable, and a special offer is made for children two and under getting their first haircut here.


They receive a certificate and a coupon for 20% off the cost of a photo at Main Street Photography Studio next door. Appointments can be made through the Americana 1900 website, by using Mr. Bell’s new-fangled telephone, in person, or guests can just sit and wait. Comfortable wooden chairs provide a place for gentlemen (and perhaps their sons) to sit, relax, maybe play a game of checkers or read the latest copy of the Police Gazette, and occasionally be entertained by the award-winning AmeriBarber Boys barbershop quartet.

Shades of the Past


The center shop in the Wisler House Block is the location for Shades of the Past, which sells every possible style of sunglass imaginable, from period-appropriate wire-rimmed to sleek, stylish, contemporary designs. However, sunglasses are not the only thing sold here. Hats, from modern ball caps to straw hats with broad brims to protect the wearer from the sun are found here, many with the Americana 1900 logo or other park decorations on them.

Teddy’s Bear Fair


The final Courthouse Square shop on Main Street, at the west end of the Wisler House Block, is Teddy’s Bear Fair, a delightful toy store that commemorates the introduction of the teddy bear to the toy world in 1902. Here children of all ages will be able to find a vast selection of teddy bears, many of them recreations of the first teddy bears created by Morris Michtom and his Ideal Toy Company. A wide variety of styles and sizes of teddy bears are available here, all of which are appropriate to the Americana 1900 era- no neon green pandas or Care Bears here!


Also for sale here are wooden tops, marbles, checkers and chess sets, toy antique cars, trucks and tractors, and many other traditional toys from America’s past. The newly reintroduced Milton A. Bradley* line of board games and toys has a special section here in Teddy’s Bear Fair, a toy store for everyone of every age.


*The Milton Bradley Company, acquired as a division of Hasbro in 1984, has now been acquired by the Icarus Financial Group, owner of the Americana Land Company, and is now a division of Americana 1900. It has been renamed the Milton A. Bradley Company, the “A” for “Americana” to distinguish it from its original incarnation, founded by its namesake Milton Bradley in 1860 as a color lithography company. The original company’s first board game, “The Checkered Game of Life,” which is considered one of the first purely American board games, has been re-released as a reproduction and is now once again one of the most popular board games in the nation.



Well-Known Member
In the Parks
@James G. I don’t think this is being said enough:

This project is absolutely amazing. As a theme park, Americana 1900 fails dramatically, in the same way that Disneyland failed as an amusement park. It breaks all the norms, from area music to trash cans to talking about torture devices, and in doing so has invented an entirely new category of themed entertainment. Americana 1900 is a cross between a museum and a theme park in the best way possible. It’s at the same time more educational than Epcot and more magical than Disneyland. Thank you for designing this park, taking such careful time to perfect it, and presenting it to this whole forum now.

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