When Kendra Cook walked into the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles for the first time in 2004, she couldn’t tell a vintage Packard from a Model T Ford.
Her adviser at Lebanon Valley College suggested she volunteer at a museum over summer break.
She chose Boyertown, basically, because it was close to home and didn’t interfere with her summer job.
It would be a decision that would change her life.
In the intervening 16 years, Cook would work her way up from the white wall tires to the convertible roof, so to speak.
She’s held nearly every position from spokeswoman to curator and manager.
Now, Cook has taken the wheel, as she puts it, as executive director of the collection of more than 90 vintage and historic vehicles, many manufactured in Eastern Pennsylvania.
“It was our lucky day when Kendra joined us as an intern,” said Bernard Hofmann, museum president. “She has learned, and matured into a most effective leader.”
Cook is honored by the trust placed in her by the board of directors.
“I’ve seen so much growth at the museum over the years,” she said. “It’s been an honor to be a part of it, and I’m humbled to take the wheel and continue moving the museum into the future.”
Its success, she notes, has been largely due to the leadership of the board and the dedication of staff and volunteers.
A graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School in Chester County, Cook, 36, holds an undergraduate degree in history, American studies and religion from Lebanon Valley College. She also earned a master's in American studies from Penn State.
As curator, she played a key role in assembling exhibits that include “Branding Roy Rogers: From Nellybelle to Lunchboxes;” “Falling Star: The Chevrolet Vega” and “Lightweights: Cycles and Light Cars.”
The exhibit “Woodrow Wilson, President Electric: Harnessing the Power of Innovation in the Progressive Era” was on loan from the Woodrow Wilson House Museum in Washington, D.C. It included the museum’s own 1921 Milburn electric car.
Looking to the future, the museum installed a charging station for electric vehicles and has enlarged its presence on social media.
Founded by Paul and Erminie Hafer in 1965, the museum’s permanent exhibition includes a 1921 cottage style Sunoco gas station and a 1938 Jerry O'Mahony diner, formerly Fegley’s Reading Diner.
The complex also includes the 1872 Jeremiah Sweinhart Carriage Factory, where vehicle building began in Boyertown.
The museum is in the former Boyertown Auto Body Works at 85 S. Walnut St.