Stained glassed and church pews mingle with baseball caps with what appears to be a religious shrine to headwear in Jerry’s Hat Museum, which is located inside a former Church of God in Forrest, Illinois. Jerry Roth grew up in the quaint town of Forrest, to local crop farmers. He has great memories of this town and says returning to the friendly faces inspired him to want to stay. So upon his retirement, after 40 years of management at a computer company in Phoenix, Arizona, he moved back to his hometown.
Jerry had a large collection of baseball caps overflowing in his garage, so when this empty parish went for sale, Jerry bought and restored the building to host his many collections. Inside the main chapel are mostly hats, but you will also see large collections of pens, pencils, and local memorabilia celebrating the town’s history.
Everything on display was hung by Jerry himself. Recently he hung 74 pencils, bringing the collection number to 31,331 pens and pencils and 15,851 hats. That will probably change tomorrow because Jerry spends nearly every retirement day, except Sundays, adding to the museum collection.
Jerry can be at the museum within minutes to open it for visitors seeking a tour. Call Jerry and experience the hat-filled church in person. “You have never seen anything like it,” Jerry says.
Know Before You Go
Entry into the museum is by appointment only. Call Jerry at (815) 374-0336, and he will gladly meet visitors within a few minutes to give a tour of his collection.