Welcome

  • About Us - The Blair County Historical Society (BCHS) was chartered on July 23, 1906 as a non-profit association open to all persons interested in preserving the history of Blair County. Since its inception, the society has taken an active role in preserving and interpreting this region's heritage, through marking sites of historical significance, publishing books and pamphlets on local history, and collecting and preserving artifacts relevant to the heritage of the area's people.

The Blair County History Center at Baker Mansion

Baker Mansion was originally home to ironmaster Elias Baker and his family. Baker purchased the nearby Alleghany Furnace in 1836 in partnership with his cousin Roland Diller. Elias brought his wife, Hetty, and their two sons, David Woods and Sylvester, from Lancaster County to what was described as a tolerable good mansion house near the furnace. Shortly after they arrived, a daughter, Anna, was born. A fourth child, Margaretta, was born in 1839, but she died of diphtheria at the age of two.

In 1844, Elias Baker bought out his cousin's share in the furnace. That same year, he contracted with Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr. to design him a new home. Work got underway on the mansion in 1845 but many problems and delays retarded its completion until 1849. The total cost was about $15,000. The cost overruns, coupled with falling prices for iron, pushed Mr. Baker to the brink of financial ruin before the home was finished. Still, Baker, ever the determined businessman, pressed ahead and achieved his dream house. He would enjoy it for fifteen years until his death in 1864. Hetty Baker remained a widow until her death in 1900.

Current Exhibit

  • exhibit Exhibits - The Blair County Historical Society holds a collection approaching 100,000 artifacts. The major period covered is 1850 through the 1920's. Nearly all items have been acquired through the donations of local residents. The collection includes a wide variety of items depicting everyday life, including clothing and accessories, furniture, household appliances, toys, china, ceramics and glassware, lighting devices, and tools. Other categories include firearms and military relics, medical tools and equipment, transportation artifacts, rocks and minerals, and material from local schools and businesses.

Blair County Historical Society

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©2014 Blair County Historical Society, 3419 Oak Lane Altoona, PA 16602, (814) 942-3916