Aurel Vaszin. at age 83, in 1967. The original Dayton Fun House company building, c. 1920. Originally,
a barracks at the National Military Home, a Civil War veterans hospital and home in Dayton. Vaszin paid
$900 to buy it and move it to his company's lot. a few blocks away. Dayton Fun House's mailing address
was the National Military Home Post Office. The National Military Home may well be the inspiration for
the later name "National Amusement Device." NAPHA Archives.
Welcome to a brief introduction and description of the NAPHA Archives.
The core component of the NAPHA Archives is the Eugene K. Feerer Collection. Mr. Feerer was a former president of International Amusement Device. Inc ("IADI"). That name may not be familiar to you but the company's previous names, National Amusement Device ("NAD") and, before that, the Dayton Fun House & Manufacturing Company, might ring a bell. The company was founded by Aurel "Dutch" Vaszin (1885-1979) sometime in the early 1920's.
The history of NAD and later IADI, lived on in box after box of the company's old records. Yet when lADI's new owners moved the firm from NAD's old complex in Dayton to its new offices in Sandusky, a decision was made to literally throw this history away! Luckily, it was NOT a decision that lADI's new president. Eugene K. Feerer. agreed with. Though he had been hired from outside the amusement industry, Feerer had the heart and soul of an amusement man and the instincts of a historian. He had the foresight to save box upon box of records rather than let them be trashed.
Nearly two decades later, NAPHA's founder Ralph Lopez and NAPHA member Derek Gee, while researching their book on Chicago's Riverview Park, Laugh Your Troubles Away, learned of Mr. Feerer and the mass of matenal he had saved. They urged him to bequeath these records to NAPHA. It is this material that is preserved today as the Feerer Collection of the NAPHA Archives.
And what a collection it is! There is a treasure trove of matenal on John A. Miller alone—plans, profiles, parts lists for coaster after coaster, some famous, some obscure, even some unidentified. Not just coasters are included, but Miller water rides, fun houses, dome buildings, loading stations, even layouts for entire parks. Correspondence with Harry Baker is contained, along with letters from L.A. Thompson, Harry Traver, Norman Bartlett, patent lawyers and park owners.
There are photos of coasters, coaster cars, and other rides. All in all. it is perhaps the largest collection of John A. Miller material anywhere. In addition to this information, there are cabinets of Dayton Fun House/NAD/IADI material: ride plans: spec lists; correspondence; photos of parks and rides from the 1920s to the 1970s, including different models of Century Flyer coaster cars; designs for fun house and dark ride animation; and plans, catalogs, etc. from other ride manufacturers.
While this priceless collection forms the core of the NAPHA Archives, NAPHA is actively adding such things as reference books, magazines, brochures and press kits, photos, postcards, slides and videotapes, park memorabilia, correspondence and other artifacts to the Archives.
Authors who have donated copies of their books include Charles J. Jacques. Jr. (Cincinnati's Coney Island, Idora Park, More Kennywood Memories, Hersheypark. and Goodbye, West View Park, Goodbye). Robert R. Reynolds (Roller Coasters. Flumes and Flying Saucers), and Australia's Sam Marshall (Luna Park: Just For Fun). Parks, amusement companies and individuals have donated documents, artifacts and rare photographs.
Because NAPHA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, donations from parks, manufacturers, designers, engineers and enthusiasts to our Archives are tax deductible. NAPHA members are encouraged to donate historical items as well.
The NAPHA Archives are now housed in a secured, climate-controlled storage facility and are still in the process of being completely and fully catalogued by our Archivist who has a position on NAPHA's Executive Committee. You can currently contact NAPHA through its website at ASK A QUESTION to request Archive information.
Through its Archives, NAPHA has already provided information or historical images in response to numerous requests from TV producers, authors and researchers.
NAPHA is a member of the Illinois State Historical Society and has an ultimate goal of building a National Amusement Industry Museum where items from the Archives can be put on display and can be accessible in a Historical Reference Library.