Tucked away in Sylmar, CA lies a world-class collection of over 250 vintage automobiles, rare mechanical musical instruments, and a fully restored steam locomotive collected by the co-founder of Merle Norman Cosmetics.
Who knew Merle Norman Cosmetics even existed anymore. Oh and ladies, you’ll be happy to know you’re invited to shop in the company store at the conclusion of your tour.
The Nethercutt Collection was founded in 1972 by J. B. Nethercutt, co-founder of Merle Norman Cosmetics.
A beautifully restored 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson locomotive and 1912 Pullman private railcar is located behind the main museum. The Hudson type is a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement and was a high-speed passenger locomotive with a top speed of 90 mph.
Now you know Sylmar’s elevation.
Inside the private car custom built by Pullman in Chicago, Illinois for Clara Baldwin Stocker the eldest Daughter of local Pioneer “Lucky” Baldwin. This railcar has been beautifully restored back to its 1912 glory days.
No chubs allowed.
#2839 was built by Montreal Locomotive Works and is resplendent in its Royal maroon, gold leaf, gloss black and brushed stainless steel livery. It is a testament to the grand era of steam locomotive engineering.
Visitors enter The Nethercutt Collection (across the street from the museum) through 10-foot tall solid bronze doors. Fancy!
This bright orange 1978 Continental Mark V Diamond Jubilee was definitely my favorite out of the 25 automobiles found in the Lower Salon of the Collection.
The Lower Salon is a microcosm of the entire collection. Besides the 25 automobiles dating back from the early 1900’s up till the late 1940’s, you’ll also find nickelodeons, music boxes, David Winter Cottages, dolls, coins, crystal figurines and a shit load of Hummels.
Now that’s a hood ornament!
a.k.a an automobile
Inside the Grand Salon Showroom where towering marble columns, crystal chandeliers, painted ceilings and 30 more of the finest automobiles from the 1910s, 20s and 30s are located.
De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1932.
Now that’s a POP of color. Known as the “Twenty Grand” because this 1933 Duesenberg cost $20,000 new.
On display in The Grand Salon Showroom are approx. 30 of the finest automobiles from the 1910-30’s. Duesenbergs, Cadillacs, Isotta-Fraschini, Delahaye, Minvera, Renault, Maybach, many other European and American built automobiles. A few articles I’ve read allude to the fact that the Nethercutt’s may have actually lived in the 5-story building where the Collection now resides. By the way, it’s the tallest building in Sylmar.
We should really think about bringing vanity hood ornaments back, cause they’re pretty frick’n amazing.
The grand ceiling in The Grand Salon Showroom
Shoot That Poison Arrow
JB Nethercutt was born in South Bend, Ind., on Oct. 11, 1913. He moved to Southern California when he was 9, after his mother’s death, to live with his aunt, Merle Nethercutt Norman. Working out of a house in the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica, Nethercutt’s aunt had started a small business producing cosmetics for sale locally in 1931. Nethercutt dropped out of college and joined the venture, helping establish Merle Norman Cosmetics. Nethercutt subsequently bought out his aunt, her husband and the other shareholders in the company and eventually created a firm with $100 million in sales. There are now about 2,000 Merle Norman franchises across the country.
Figurine-palooza in the Lower Salon.
Look, its a flying car.
The third floor Mezzanine includes the employee cafeteria [not open to the public] where the company still provides each and every employee a chef made meal for only .25 cents.
Also on the third floor Mezzanine is a large assortment of radiator hood ornaments “Mascots”, including Lalique Crystal Mascots and 18th & 19th Century French Furniture.
The Music Room includes a world-class collection of automated mechanical instruments including reproducing pianos, nickelodeons, cyclinder & disc music boxes, orchestrions and the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
This 5,000-piped Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ once belonged to the Denver Civic Auditorium and is the largest theatre organ on the West Coast.
As the Mighty Wurlitzer rises out of the floor on its platform, the wood-paneled walls open up, revealing the glass-encased pipes inside, lit in a rainbow of colors. Why taste the rainbow, when you can hear it.