Forty-three U.S. presidents will be looking for homes next month, as Gettysburg's Hall of Presidents and First Ladies, which closed in late November, will be auctioning off the wax figures that have been entertaining tourists for more than half-a-century.
The figures, along with other museum contents, will be put up for auction Jan. 14.
A fixture on Gettyburg's Baltimore Street since 1957, the museum displayed figures of all 43 men who have served as president. It also included figures of each first lady, dressed in facsimile inaugural gowns.
The museum fell victim to a decline in attendance that not even interest in the recent presidential election could stem, its owner said.
"It was kind of its time," said Max T. Felty, president of Gettysburg Tours Inc. "We were hoping that, with the Gettysburg  sesquicentennial, we'd see the attendance go up. But it really didn't increase much."
According to the museum's website, the figures' heads are made of a liquid vinyl plastic (with eyes purchased from an optical supply company), while the torsos are made of Fiberglass and Styrofoam. The "fully articulating arms" are made of wood.
Gettysburg Tours Inc. also operates the Jennie Wade House and Museum, in a building that was home to the only civilian killed during the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg. Attendance at the Jennie Wade House remains steady, Felty said, and its future is secure for now. "She's not going anywhere," he said. "That's a very good attraction."
The Soldier's National Museum, housed in a building that predates the Civil War and has been a museum of one sort or another since the 1950s, is shutting its doors for good Sunday afternoon — the victim, its owner says, of a culture that demands a more dynamic, interactive, hands-on experience for its museum dollar.
The Hall of Presidents auction is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at the 1863 Inn of Gettysburg, 516 Baltimore St. Previews are set for noon-5 p.m. Jan. 8 and 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 12 at the museum, 789 Baltimore St.