CUMBERLAND, Md.-Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., marking its 100th year in 1994, kicked off centennial celebrations Jan. 20 by opening a museum at its Cumberland headquarters, displaying Kelly memorabilia and artifacts from the company's long history in tire making. In addition to local news media and members of the trade press, the museum's opening was attended by Cumberland's mayor and dignitaries from Fayetteville, N.C., Tyler, Texas, and Freeport, Ill., where the company's tire plants are located.
The event was the first step in the company's planned celebrations, said Jack Florin, director of advertising and chairman of the centennial committee.
Kelly is billing itself as ``America's oldest tire company'' in promotional materials calling attention to its centennial anniversary.
Future planned activities include the introduction of a new premium Kelly tire named for the occasion, special festivities at the company's annual dealer conference in Orlando, Fla., March 9-11, plus a national sales promotion scheduled for the last two weeks of May.
Mr. Florin said Kelly also will hold many of its other dealer/customer meetings in Cumberland this year to provide them with the opportunity to visit the museum.
``We put a tremendous amount of work in pulling this together,'' said Mr. Florin, adding that entering the museum is ``like stepping back in time.''
The museum's exterior entry way was constructed to resemble a typical store front of early the 1900s, complete with a window display of paper-wrapped ``Buckeye Cord'' tires, accompanied by a poster of ``Miss Lotta Miles,'' Kelly's glamorous ``pin-up girl'' of decades past.
Items displayed at the museum range from:
A life-size depiction of a worker installing one of the ``Springfield'' solid rubber carriage tires around which Edwin S. Kelly and his partner Arthur W. Grant launched the business in Springfield, Ohio, in 1894;
A pickaxe used to break ground for construction of the old Cumberland plant, where tire production was centralized in 1921;
A ``Kelly'' doll produced in the 1930s;
A panoramic photograph of New York's Times Square, taken during the 1920s, over which looms a lighted neon sign advertising Kelly tires; and
A company history written on walls surrounding the interior of the museum.
Public tours of the museum and company headquarters will begin in April, with ``homecoming festivities'' for retirees and dealers slated for May 16.
A ``grand finale'' will take place May 28, the actual date of the company's 100th anniversary.