It’s the kind of roadside attraction you might expect to find tucked away down some dark back alley in a somewhat seedy and questionable part of any big American city. However, Pexcho’s American Dime Museum is actually located in a very bright and spacious part of Augusta, GA, in a former auto parts building that sits on 6th Street just two blocks from the Savannah River and Oglethorpe Park. Though some may say the presence of the neighborhood’s many tattoo parlors give the area a kind of sordid feel, Peter Excho – a.k.a. the “Pexcho” in the museum’s moniker – says that the area’s interesting characters are exactly why he chose this location for what is billed as the “Last American Dime Museum” in the country.

The entrance to Pexcho’s American Dime Museum. Photo: Stephanie Stuckey

NOT A DIME A DOZEN

Before we go any further, however, first let us explain what a dime museum actually is. Most importantly, you will not find the smallest coin in American currency bearing the likeness of one Franklin Delano Roosevelt on display anywhere in the museum. Rather, they’re called dime museums because that’s how much it cost to get into the museum back in their late-19th, early-20th century prime.

When you think of a dime museum, the image you’ll most likely conjure up is that of P.T. Barnum, who opened up his American Museum in 1840, charging a dime to enter. Barnum’s museum contained many historic artifacts, along with natural oddities and rarities including people who suffered from dwarfism (General Tom Thumb), albinos, conjoined twins, and other “living curiosities.” As Barnum’s museum became popular, dime museums started popping up in big cities like Baltimore, New Orleans, and Chicago. Later, when P.T. Barnum and other circuses took their shows on the road, they took their “freak shows” with them, allowing even those living in small-town America to see their wonders.

MODERN TIMES, MODERN DIMES

Though they reached their peak back between the late 1890s and 1920s, Pexcho is no stranger to dime museums of modern times. After visiting the now-defunct American Dime Museum in Baltimore, MD, he fell in love with the idea and became a volunteer at the museum. Thus began his guidance into the lost art of sideshow and freak-show preservation. 

Pexcho
Photo: Stephanie Stuckey

Unfortunately, the American Dime Museum closed in 2007 and many of its items were auctioned off. At the time that Pexcho was working as a volunteer, he began collecting his own wonders and oddities, and with the closing of the American Dime Museum, part-owner Dick Horne “bequeathed” him some items. Pexcho then took his collection to Baton Rouge, LA, and opened his own dime museum there. Twelve years later, Pexcho moved his collection to a new museum in Augusta.  

BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS WELCOME

Christened Pexcho’s American Dime Museum, it is here that Pexcho carries on the tradition of P.T. Barnum and “Curiosity Cabinets,” owned by the wealthy of the 19th century. He invites the doubting Thomases, the nay-sayers and the never-believers to come and have a look at his rarities and oddities. But more importantly, he gives those that visit his dime museum a truly authentic and genuine Victorian-era experience of what the American Dime was actually like. Part of this has to do with the fact that Pexcho dresses – no – lives the part of a 19th-century American dime store curator, down to his top hat, silk ascot, and vest.

Just some of the things you’ll see at Pexcho’s American Dime Museum in Augusta, GA.
Photo: Stephanie Stuckey

Okay, so maybe the stick of African bloodwood that Pexcho, most notably, has going through his nose isn’t screaming authentic 19th-century Victorian era American gentleman. But that, too, is the allure of this place. You see, it was at the American Dime Museums of yore that alternative facts were born.

A BUNCH OF HOT AIR?

For example, did that bottle of farts really belong to Le Petomane, (which we believe translates into English as “The Tooting Maniac”), the famous Parisian flatulist and music hall performer of the late 19th century? It is believed that the famous flatulator would insert a hose in his nether region and pass his gas into a jar, which he then sealed and sold as a souvenir. And what does the flatulence of a famous farter smell like, anyway? We may never know, as Pexcho states he will never unseal the bottle in which it is contained.

Don’t lose your head while you’re there.
Photo: Stephanie Stuckey

There are roughly 600 (and counting) relics on display at any given time — just a small portion of Pexcho’s collection. Many are natural oddities — like acyclops fish or the sheep boy — as well as some things they left out of both the history books and the Smithsonian Museum, like Abraham Lincoln’s last stool. However, it’s not all scatology and human deformity. In spite of everything, Pexcho wants families to come and be entertained, leaving smiling and happy, not scared to death. Word of mouth is great free advertising, after all.

The museum is located at 216 6th Street in Augusta. Tours are available by appointment. Call +1 225-448-1453 for more information.

If you got inspired by Pexcho’s American Design museum, why not visit stuckeys.com and start your own collection of wonders with the Stuckey’s Roadside Revival Gift Box?

Inside you’ll find such rarities as the Drinking Bird (a rare bird that “comes to life” and starts drinking water right before your very eyes!), and the Coonskin Cap (anyone who dares don the hide of the American raccoon instantly becomes part human, part BEAST!). And of course, there are the wonders of the real rubber alligators, vicious reptiles leftover from the dinosaur era. Their young hatch in remote parts of souvenir shops and Stuckey’s locations throughout the U.S., surviving only on the local plastic bugs and rubber snakes on store shelves, where they’re also sold as kitschy souvenirs!

Rubber alligators in their natural habitat among the shelves of every Stuckey’s location.
Photo: Stephanie Stuckey

Of course, the gift box also contains some of America’s favorite road trip treats like three 2-oz. Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls,  one 8-oz. Caramel Popcorn,  and one 4-oz. Toasted & Salted Pecans. Finally, to remember your adventure, there’s the Campfire Travel Enamel Mug that you can sip coffee out of while retelling your story of the time you spotted the elusive Florida Skunk Ape. Oh, and don’t forget the Stuckey’s Bumper Sticker – a badge of honor among your fellow road trip travelers that shows you only choose the best in road trip snacks and classic souvenirs.

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!