THE VILLAGES, FL – Just down the road from Brownwood Village, more than a century of agricultural history is on display at Paquette’s Farmall Museum. The grandkid-friendly museum has more than 160 restored International Harvester Farmall tractors on display in a one-of-a-kind attraction that draws visitors from around the world.
The museum is owned and operated by Stewart Paquette, who opened the museum in 2010 to house the restored tractors he spent a decade collecting. Stewart is retired and has been residing in Leesburg, Florida for over 42 years. After realizing that he was not quite ready to sit still he decided to open a museum to the public, which has kept him been busy ever since.
“International Harvester was one of the first large companies in the world to introduce technology that allowed farmers to work without the use of horses or by hand,” Paquette says. “They survived and even prospered after production stopped of all IH products in 1985.”
The museum puts the restoration process front and center. Behind the replica of a 1940’s dealership the museum has a full restoration shop. Typically when an old tractor stops working, the scraps are sent to China for reproduction of newer products. But Paquette teaches his visitors that these materials can be recycled into restoring IH products.
In addition to restoring and collecting tractors, the museum also has antique tractors for sale on its website.
“My most treasured artifact in this museum is also the People’s Choice Award, which is a 12-0-6 tractor,” Paquette says. “The reason it’s so popular is because it was only made between the years of 1964-1967, and has a different paint scheme than all the other tractors in the museum. The wheels, fenders, and grill of this tractor are all white, which really makes this item stand out.”
Paquette’s museum is one of two major International Harvester museums in the country (the other is in Iowa). The collection encompasses 50,000 square feet, with four side buildings that store the museum’s equipment, memorabilia, dealership, and restoration building.
In addition to tractors, the museum has hundreds of additional artifacts including air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, Cub Cadets – a little bit of everything produced by the company from the 1920s until the 1970s. — By Tara Gerber
Paquette’s Historical Farmall Museum
WHERE: 615 South Whitney Road in Leesburg, FL
WHEN: Open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except Christmas Day.
ADMISSION: $10 per person, children under 10 are free.
Phone: (352) 728-3588
Farmall Facts: Did You Know?
- International Harvester produced its first Farmall tractor in 1926 and by 1930 it had produced 100,000 tractors.
- By 1974, International Harvester had produced 5 million tractors.
- The original company now operates as Navistar International Corporation as a manufacturer of medium and heavy-duty trucks, school buses and engines.