Once described by Ronald Reagan as a “true national treasure,” the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont, Florida has featured (and replicated) White House memorabilia since 1960. Originally a popular wax museum called the “House of Presidents,” the attraction changed names in 1990 to reflect its growing exhibitions. Today, the “Presidents Hall of Fame” includes animatronics, White House replicas and, most notably, Americana miniatures.
Outside, visitors will be greeted by smaller replicas of Mt. Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as one of the former parade limousines used by past U.S. Presidents. Inside, visitors will be met by wax figures of the current U.S. President and First Lady, dressed in a replica of her Inaugural Gown. An animatronic figure of President Lincoln awaits nearby, as well as a wax figure set at the scene of the Ford Theatre, moments before Lincoln’s assassination.
Many original artifacts are displayed throughout the exhibition, such as former White House china, old Christmas cards, and even two champagne glasses which Reagan and Gorbachev once sipped from. Much praise has also been given to the replicas featured, including a full size model of the famous “Resolute Desk,” as well as a recreation of Lincoln’s bedroom.
What has drawn the most attention, however, are the detailed miniatures on display. All created by the museum owners, John and Jan Zweifel, the small scale replicas have toured the world, as well as gone on display in the Smithsonian. The most well-known figure is The Miniature White House, an entirely hand-made model which the Zweifel’s have painstakingly worked on since 1962.
The miniature was designed on a 1 inch to 1 foot scale of the White House, and features include working mini televisions, crystal chandeliers, and updated versions of the Oval Office as the decor changes with each administration. While on tour in Holland, the model was even attacked by a group of Anti-American vandals. Though much of the model suffered damage, all has since been repaired.
Although the model remains in the President’s Hall of Fame permanent collection, it travels throughout the country for most of the year. Luckily, visitors can still see portions of it on display at the museum. Other miniatures include a depiction of the White House at the time of its construction, as well as a three ring circus designed by John Zweifel when he was only twelve years old.
Additionally, be sure to stop by the Citrus Tower next door, where you can view the tiny Mt. Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial from 500 feet up!