Come discover tales of immigrants, booze, and lawbreakers...
Blair County, Pennsylvania was emblematic of the American Experience in many ways. From the 1880s through the 1930s, the region witnessed an influx of German immigration and the creation of ethnic neighborhoods. Many of these new American citizens brought with them the art of making beer and spirits. Looking to attain the American Dream, these entrepreneurs set out to share their talents and make a living in the process. These aspirations and business practices were subsequently challenged during the tumult of Prohibition and the "Roaring Twenties." Come learn how alcohol was and continues to be a cultural staple of central Pennsylvania life. If you are interested in sponsoring part of this project, contact us.
Forging Ahead: The Bell Family Story
Explore the founding of Bellwood, PA... The story of Edward Bell and his family is central to the founding of central Pennsylvania. From 1810 to 1830, the iron, distillery, and gristmill businesses of Edward Bell thrived. He hauled goods from Pittsburgh and Baltimore into the Logan Valley area. Building the Bell Mansion in present day Bellwood in 1822, Bell eventually gained nearly 4,000 acres in property. This exhibit will be placed in the newly refurbished Bell Room, featuring prized relics of the Bell Family. If you are interested in sponsoring part of this project, please contact us.
To End All Wars: Blair County in WWI
Learn about the citizens changed by the Great War... Thousands of Blair County residents served in various capacities of the First World War. Known for its incredible, systematic carnage, Americans referred to the conflict as "the war to end all wars." Accordingly, the people of central Pennsylvania struggled to cope with the war's devastation and meanings. This exhibit explores the global confrontation through the eyes of locals who saw it firsthand. The display will feature a recreation of a battlefield trench wall and historical treasures. If you are interested in sponsoring part of this project, please contact us.
Top of the Line: The Story of Gable's Department Store - Opening in Spring 2017 -
James Shannon photo courtesy of David Seidel.
Revisit Altoona's popular Gable's Department Store... In many ways, Gable’s Department Store was the nucleus of downtown life in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Opening in 1884, William F. Gable’s business relocated to 11th Avenue in 1892. The massive store eventually boasted some forty departments. Known for its quality of service and "top of the line" products, Gable's was more than a store--it was a pillar of the community. Like other downtown businesses, it was unable to compete against the rise of urban sprawl, closing in 1980. This exhibit will feature unique photos and artifacts from various episodes of the store's history. A reunion of former Gable's employees and tours of the historic structure are also planned. If you are interested in sponsoring this project, contact us.
Visit Our Other Exhibits:
We are more than a mere house museum... The home of the Baker Family for over a half-century, Baker mansion includes original furnishings in a vibrant museum setting. Today, Baker Mansion is also the location of the Blair County History Center. The second floor features insightful rotating exhibits on all aspects of local history. The site also includes an in-depth research facility. The home of some 100,000 artifacts from all aspects of United States History, the center uses the saga of Blair County and its people to illustrate the American experience.
Blair County Historical Society Physical Site: Baker Mansion 3419 Oak Lane Altoona, PA 16602