Toy Cellar in Roscoe Village Covers Civil War in the Space Age

COSHOCTON – Richard Hoover has been collecting old toys for decades because of the nostalgia they bring to him. He is happy to share this with visitors to The Toy Cellar in Roscoe Village.

The museum opened its doors in 2009 in the basement of the toll house. It moved to the basement of the Hay Craft Center in 2020 due to Hillbippie Clay taking over the Toll House. It now houses the Coshocton Art Guild Gallery and Gift Shop.

The Toy Cellar features artifacts from the 1860s to the 1960s, from the Civil War to the Space Age. It has wind-up toys, gravity toys, tin toys, wooden toys, push cars, kaleidoscopes and everything in between. It has approximately 800 pieces and is derived from Hoover’s private collection accumulated over 50 years.

Hoover said he and his family love flea markets and once lived near one of Ohio’s biggest in Hartville.

“We would go there almost every Monday morning and get there early. People were unpacking their trunks, bringing stuff in from old attics and garages. I never imagined you could even see stuff like that,” Hoover said. . “Anyway, it bit me pretty hard and that’s where the collection started.”

He collected old tools, clocks and more. Toys came later, a few here and there that Hoover just found interesting.

“It grew from there,” he said.

When Hoover retired as a minister in Coshocton, he and his wife Alice spent more time working in the village of Roscoe as historical interpreters and tour guides. He also participated in a series of conferences. For a conference on the evolution of transport, he brought some of his small cars, buses, planes and trains.

Jim McClure, manager of Roscoe Village at the time, was so impressed with the memorabilia that he encouraged Hoover to open The Toy Cellar.

“He asked ‘would you be willing to lend all this to the village for an exhibition.’ I said yes and he almost passed out,” Hoover said with a laugh. “He probably thought to himself that I would say ‘I’ll have to think about it’, but I thought it would be a great opportunity not only for me to share my hobby, but also for other people to to profit from.”

Richard Hoover shows off a piece from his collection of classic toys on display in The Toy Cellar in the basement of the Hay Craft Center in Roscoe Village.

Usually the first word out of people’s mouths when they walk in is “wow,” Hoover said. The question most often asked by visitors is what is their favorite toy.

“I always joke with visitors when they ask me that. I say ‘what do you think I showed you in the last 10 minutes.’ Everyone I show is my favorite. I also need to be entertained. I’m not here just to entertain other people,” Hoover said.

He no longer actively collects toys, although there are many pieces that he still wishes he had. In recent years he has attempted to fill some gaps in the collection through eBay and other means.

“Things are just getting really hard to find now and more expensive,” Hoover said. “Also, where’s the place to put it?”

The Toy Cellar in the basement of the Hay Craft Center in Roscoe Village features approximately 800 pieces from Richard Hoover's private collection ranging from the 1860s to the 1960s, amassed over 50 years of collecting.

The Toy Cellar is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment. Hoover is on hand to answer questions and give a demonstration. Contact Roscoe Village for more information at roscoevillage.com or by calling 740-622-7644.

Leonard Hayhurst is community content coordinator and generalist reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with nearly 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.

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