Tragic highlights.

Tragedy in U.S. History Museum Dies

How Do You Spell Tragedy? C-L-O-S-E-D.

Oswald's bedroom furniture.The Tragedy in U.S. History Museum, a thorn in the side of image-conscious St. Augustine, FL, for over 30 years, is no more.

A museum with a theme this twisted could only be the work of a visionary, and it was: L.H. "Buddy" Hough, who got the idea after watching TV news reports of the Kennedy assassination. He opened the museum in 1965 and was immediately thrown in jail for zoning violations. His little house, covered with big signs screaming, " See Jayne Mansfield's death car -- learn the truth!" and, " See human skeletons inside Old Spanish Jail!" didn't fit into St. Augustine's neat tourist package (inc. Oldest Schoolhouse in the US, Fountain of Youth, Spanish Fort).

For the next 20 years Buddy battled the St. Augustine Chamber of Commerce, until the issue was finally resolved in his favor by the Florida Supreme Court. Even then, although Buddy had won the right to keep his museum open, the Chamber of Commerce would insist it was closed whenever we called to check. Buddy, perhaps justifiably leery of the press, wasn't much help, either -- he never answered his phone. We had to travel to the Tragedy in U.S. History Museum repeatedly to make sure that it was still open. It always was, and this claustrophobic nightmare of an attraction was one of our favorites. Where else in America could you eat a picnic lunch next to displays of celebrity death cars and human skeletons?

entry sign. Buddy died in 1996. His widow, Debra, valiantly kept the museum open, but the responsibility of selling tragedy to carefree Florida vacationers proved too much for her. She closed the museum in March and on Saturday, April 4, Buddy's unique collection of tragedabilia went on the auction block.

Some of the items:

Buddy's treasures were expected to sell quickly, according to a family spokesperson. "People like tragedy."

[04/05/1998]
Hours:
1998 - closed.

July 31, 2014

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Mardi Gras World, New Orleans, Louisiana (Jul 28-Aug 3, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now