The Jimmy Stewart Museum is a Pennsylvania Hidden Gem
The Jimmy Stewart Museum is dedicated to the life and achievements of James M. Stewart, one of the most beloved actors and icons in American History.
Oscar-winning actor, war veteran, and family man – Jimmy had it all.
But is a museum dedicated to him worth a visit? Do you have to be a film buff to care?
Let’s find out!
About the Jimmy Stewart Museum
The Jimmy Stewart Museum opened in 1995. It contains six exhibits, including a Hollywood gallery, a military gallery, and a replica of his boyhood bedroom. Artifacts range from family mementos to movie props. You’ll find his Boy Scouts merit badges, military awards, and a six-foot-tall stuffed rabbit which represents Stewart’s invisible pal in the movie “Harvey.”
There’s even a life-size statue of Jimmy made of fiberglass.
One unique feature of the Jimmy Stewart Museum is the cozy 1930’s style vintage theater. It plays one Jimmy Stewart matinee movie per day, which is part of your admission ticket.
At $10 per adult, that’s a bargain!
Where Is the Jimmy Stewart Museum?
The Jimmy Stewart Museum is in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where Jimmy was born and raised. Jimmy had planned to work at his family’s hardware store. But when he discovered acting, he became devoted to the craft and moved to Hollywood. Though, he certainly took the values and work ethic of his small town with him.
Indiana is a borough located about one hour from central Pittsburgh. Downtown Indiana is in the National Register of Historic Places, with gorgeous architecture dating to the late 1700s.
Just south of downtown is the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which opened in 1875. The student population comprises much of the town, with the median age being 22!
Although Mr. Stewart initially wasn’t interested in creating a museum, he agreed to it so long as the museum was modest. He was delighted with it in the end, as it reflected his values with a humble style.
“Entering a building which houses a museum named after me is a privilege I could never have anticipated. I hope its visitors will enjoy their stay there. After all, they are the ones who really built it.”
Pro Tip: When driving through Pennsylvania, you will likely find yourself on I-80. Bored on the road? Liven up your road trip with our The Interstate 80 Road Trip Guide.
What Movie Made Jimmy Stewart Famous?
Jimmy Stewart appeared in over 90 films, TV shows, and shorts. He hit the screen in 1934 and was playing starring roles just two years later.
But the film that made Jimmy Stewart famous enough to warrant his own museum was “It’s A Wonderful Life,” directed by Frank Capra in 1946.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a small-town family man who dreams of traveling the world. However, his dreams get thwarted by his family’s need to run their business – the Bailey Brothers Building and Loans of Bedford Falls.
George attempts to save the business from his nemesis Henry Potter. Henry is a greedy, conniving board member who does everything he can to destroy George and the town of Bedford Falls. When George feels he has lost all, he contemplates suicide and almost jumps off a bridge on Christmas Eve.
Luckily, Angel, Clarence Odbody, sent from heaven to earn his wings, saved George. Clarence shows George what life in his small town would be if he had never existed. George is shocked and humbled and returns to his family with unbound gratitude.
Although it was never Capra’s intention to have “It’s a Wonderful Life” be a “Christmas Picture,” it has since become the most-watched movie of the season. Many people consider it to be one of the greatest films of all time.
Who is Jimmy Stewart’s wife?
Jimmy Stewart was married to Gloria Hatrick Mclean from 1949 until she died in 1994.
Gloria was an actress, model, philanthropist, and conservationist. She had two sons from a previous marriage and had twin daughters with Jimmy.
Although Jimmy was a bit of a player in his early days, Gloria stole his heart, and their love story is one for the books. His final words upon his passing in 1997 were, “I’m going to be with Gloria now.”
Best Hikes Near the Jimmy Stewart Museum
The Jimmy Stewart Museum, nestled in the heart of Indiana County, is surrounded by parks, lakes, and plenty of wildlife. You might find an American Black Bear, a White-Tailed Deer, or a Porcupine within the county’s robust trail system. Here are two trails within one mile of the museum.
The Hoodlebug Trail is part of a network of Western Pennsylvania Trails called the Trans Allegheny Trails. Named after the small passenger coach trains of the early 1900s, Hoodlebug Trail spans 11.8 miles, connecting the towns of Indiana and Blairsville.
The trail is a mix of gravel and asphalt, making it great for both walking and bicycling. Take a look at the map before you set off, as you’ll have a vast array of landmarks and landscapes to explore.
Trailhead Location: 1198 Wayne Ave, Indiana, PA 15701
Whites Woods Trail
The Whites Woods Trail is a 3.7-mile loop trail within the White Woods Nature Center Park. The 250-acre park contains many native trees, such as Magnolias, Pines, and Tulip Poplar. The best time to view local wildflowers is in the spring and summer months.
Check out the Friends of Whites’ Woods website for information on park conservation efforts.
Trailhead Location: N 12th street and Chestnut Street, at the southwest edge of the park
Best Camping Near the Jimmy Stewart Museum
After exploring the history of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, you can relax under the sky at two nearby campgrounds. Both Wheel-in-Campground and Yellow Creek Campground are approximately 20 minutes away from the Jimmy Stewart Museum.
Wheel-In Campground – Shelocta
Wheel-In Campground has full hookup campsites and standard amenities for families, solo travelers, and groups alike. There’s a pool, a pond with paddleboats, a volleyball court and a playground. It is open from mid-April to mid-October.
Location: 113 Wheelin Camp Ground Shelocta, PA 15774
Yellow Creek Campground – Penn Run
Yellow Creek Campground is a family-owned campground with campsites, tent sites, and five cabin rentals. The campground is located adjacent to Big Yellow Creek and has a heated bathhouse. Although modern amenities such as WiFi are available, traditional woodland camping is encouraged. Yellow Creek is open from April 1 to October 31.
Location: 9679 Route 422 Hwy E Penn Run, PA 15765
Pro Tip: After visiting the Jimmy Stewart Museum, head to The Poconos with out Ultimate Poconos Camping Guide for 2021.
Is a Road Trip to the Jimmy Stewart Museum Worth It?
Yes! Whether you’re a film nerd, a Jimmy Stewart fan, or just looking for a unique experience, this road trip is worth it. The Jimmy Stewart Museum is curated with care.
There’s plenty of beautiful architecture and local history to take in around the museum. And the hikes make your options even more bountiful. We highly recommend visiting this hidden gem.
After visiting the Jimmy Stewart Museum and surrounding area, you may find yourself smiling, and saying “It’s a wonderful life.”
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