by Steven Dugan
In this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we’d like to introduce Patrick Utter. Patrick has been a volunteer since the fall of 2016 and immediately began working with our Collections Care group. Antiques have always been one of his interests. That interest in part led him to volunteering here at the museum, because as you’ll see, Patrick really likes antiques—especially antique cars. We asked him to share his thoughts about his time here at the museum, his love of classic cars, and his passion for genealogy.
How did you discover the Homestead Museum and what made you want to volunteer here?
My wife and I have lived down the street from the Homestead for the past 38 years. In the last ten years we started to attend more of the functions at the museum.
You work primarily with the museum’s Collections Care group. Are there any artifacts from our collection that are your favorite?
While I don’t have any one artifact that stands out, I think that the many I have worked on have their own unique and special quality.
When you’re not volunteering at the Homestead, what other activities do you enjoy?
It seems like I have been working on cars my entire life. My interest in classic cars began when I was 14 and I learned how to fix them. I bought a 1950 Dodge Ram for $50 (my entire savings!) and made it roadworthy in about two years. This eventually led to a passion in restoring antique cars. For the last 20 years, I have owned and restored a 1930 Ford Model “A” Coupe. It took me less than one year to restore that car. That is the same car I have brought to the Ticket to the Twenties event to show visitors. (You can read more about Patrick’s 1930 Model “A” in this blog post from last year.)
You’re also your family’s genealogist. Have you made any interesting or unexpected discoveries in your research?
My interest in genealogy started when my mother gave me a letter that contained [information about] my father’s side of the family. The interest increased with the help of a letter from my great-grandfather and newspaper clippings from my grandmother. I found out that my grandfather attended the Wright Flying School in Dayton, OH (which stood on land that was eventually merged with Patterson Air Field to create the Wright-Patterson Airforce Base in 1948). I also learned that my grandfather broke the altitude record for solo test flights at the school on May 16, 1914, flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet. The story he always told me included that he broke the record on a $5.00 bet! Other information I gleaned from my great-grandfather’s letter included two cousins who fought in the Civil War; one for the Northern Army and the other for the Northern Navy. The cousin who served in the Navy died at the infamous Confederate Prison Camp at Andersonville.
If someone asked you about the Homestead, how would you describe the museum to them?
I would tell them what I know about the Homestead Museum and let them know that we have great docents who give great, informative tours.