For years, the Auto World Museum has provided visitors the opportunity to enjoy William Backer's unique collection of vintage cars, which includes everything from a 1909 Black Auto Buggy to a 1957 Ford Thunderbird to a 1982 Delorean Coupe.
After hosting the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet on Jan. 21, Backer's daughter, Vicki McDaniel, is hoping area residents may start to see the museum - located at 200 Peacock Dr. in Fulton - as a potential special event space.
"We would like to thank you all for being here. This is either a grand experiment this evening, or a debut of Auto World as a venue for grand events," McDaniel said during the banquet on Jan. 21. "Of course, getting ready for this, I had some thoughts of Dad. I think he would be a little upset with me - this space had a few more cars in it.
"I think he would also be totally delighted and thrilled that his friends were enjoying his collection."
Monday afternoon she said the idea - originally spurred when her husband said the museum would be a good setting for a restaurant - was prompted by a need to generate more income to sustain the museum.
"When we were first doing the design (for the newer location, which opened in October 2006) it was turning out so much niftier than the old location," McDaniel said. "(Then) in summer 2009 we moved a few cars and built the three-dimensional gas station which can serve as a stage and the diner set were added for the purpose of holding events."
Some of the things added to the museum with that purpose in mind included audio/visual equipment with a 10x14 foot movie screen, tables chairs and linens, a small stage area (the diner), a portable stage platform (the gas station) and a piano/orchestrion originally intended to accompany silent movies called a Fotoplayer.
"We could host all sorts of retirement parties, birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, musical entertainment, concerts with the Fotoplayer or even business meetings," McDaniel said as she listed the possibilities. "I could see maybe small plays like the "Pump Boys and Dinettes' or a dinner theater sort of thing."
She said Auto World - which has the ability to arrange table seating for 150 people in the center area of the museum, or the entire space can seat 200 or more - is available to rent out based on a group rate, with additional charges for security if alcohol is to be served.
"We're trying to make it in-line (with other venues) or at least not ridiculously expensive," McDaniel said, noting the museum hosted several smaller events before taking on the chamber banquet. "We will make it available year-round."
Nancy Lewis, executive director of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, said the museum worked well for her organization's purposes.
"They have so many things that are possible with the screen and the sound system, they have the tables and chairs - they really worked to make it good for us," Lewis said. "One thing I was pleased with is there were so many local people that said, "I've never been here.' People need to be there to see what it is.
"I think it worked really well for us. I think it's a very good, positive thing for the community."
Although Auto World may seem like an unconventional setting for an event space, McDaniel said she would encourage area residents to keep it in mind the next time they are planning an special occasion.
"Give us a try," she said. "It is a unique environment. Just give us a ring and we'll show you around."
For more information, contact McDaniel at (573) 642-2333 or email@example.com, or Ashley at (573) 220-8535. For use fee details call the museum at (573) 642-2080.