Baker Mansion

Baker Mansion The Blair County (PA) Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the significance of the county's history in local and national context. Join us and help preserve the past for future generations!
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.

Since 1922, our headquarters have been in the Baker Mansion, Altoona. After leasing the building for two decades, the society purchased it from the Baker heirs in 1941. Here the society operates its museum, at which visitors can see period rooms depicting the Baker family's lifestyle, as well as exhibits on the early iron industry, transportation, medicine, military history, toys, geology, and education. Changing displays are presented in the second floor gallery. The mansion also holds the society's offices, library and archives. We are always seeking the aid of volunteers, educators, and contributors to help us keep history alive!

Mission: “It is the mission of the Blair County Historical Society to preserve, promote, and interpret the history of Blair County, Pennsylvania."

75 years ago today: A colorful front page in The Altoona Mirror marked VE Day--Victory in Europe Day, the surrender of N...
05/08/2020

75 years ago today: A colorful front page in The Altoona Mirror marked VE Day--Victory in Europe Day, the surrender of Nazi Germany in WWII. The day was both celebratory and solemn as Altoona religious leaders hosted an interfaith service. All were happy by the outcome, but saddened by what it took to attain victory. There was also a recognition of the war yet to be won in the Pacific.

The products of Elias Baker were frequently shipped via this method! Before highways and railroads crisscrossed the comm...
05/07/2020
Aqueducts, Inclines And Mules: How The Pennsylvania Canal Changed The Commonwealth

The products of Elias Baker were frequently shipped via this method! Before highways and railroads crisscrossed the commonwealth, a series of linked waterways and inclined planes brought people and goods across the state. The Pennsylvania Canal was a significant engineering achievement when it was constructed in 1826. You should also check out the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site to learn more on the topic!

Before highways and railroads crisscrossed the commonwealth, a series of linked waterways and inclined planes brought people and goods across the state.

Today in 1946: The Horseshoe Curve NHL reopened to the public after being closed to tourists for nearly four years. The ...
05/06/2020

Today in 1946: The Horseshoe Curve NHL reopened to the public after being closed to tourists for nearly four years. The closure was due to safety concerns after it was discovered that Nazi agents planned to target the site during Operation Pastorius. During WWII, citizens grew well-accustomed to limitations and shortcomings of daily life in the name of security.

We are very sad to report the passing of Blair County WWII Veteran Roger Bowers, who attended many of our WWII-themed ev...
05/05/2020

We are very sad to report the passing of Blair County WWII Veteran Roger Bowers, who attended many of our WWII-themed events over the years. In fact, he celebrated his 90th birthday at Baker Mansion with fellow Second World War vets! Roger was a veteran of the 103rd Medical Battalion, 28th Infantry Division in Europe. He was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and was a prisoner of war at Stalag IXB. Roger and his wife Mitzi were life members of AXPOW (American Ex-Prisoners of War) and charter members of the Southern Alleghenies chapter. He was 96.

May the Fourth be with you! A not so long time ago at a county museum not so far away. . . The intrepid young Jedi, Luke...
05/04/2020

May the Fourth be with you!
A not so long time ago at a county museum not so far away. . .
The intrepid young Jedi, Luke Skywalker, has been dispatched by the Rebellion to safeguard key historical relics at the Baker Temple of Knowledge.
Join our Force this "Star Wars Day" so that Padawans all throughout the galaxy can continue to enjoy our museum. Donate today at www.blairhistory.org.

In early August 1915, the “Justice Bell,” a replica of the Liberty Bell, was driven from Bedford to Hollidaysburg, then ...
05/03/2020

In early August 1915, the “Justice Bell,” a replica of the Liberty Bell, was driven from Bedford to Hollidaysburg, then to Altoona, Bellwood and Tyrone. It would eventually visit all 67 Pennsylvania counties to drum up support for a positive vote for women’s suffrage. It arrived in Altoona to a huge crown on August 3, 1915. This photo was submitted by Elaine Conrad, a longtime local historian, who will be presenting a program for the Blair County Historical Society on June 17 at the Railroaders Museum, for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

05/02/2020
Altoona KIA WWII Memorial Project

History students at Altoona Area High School have been compiling research on city sons who perished in the Second World War. Follow their journeys on this brand new page, which explores the short but not forgotten lives of Altoona GIs.

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII. Starting in the Spring of 2020, this page will feature biographies of the more than 300 residents of Altoona who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Slinky is a longstanding Blair County product! But how did it begin?
05/02/2020
The Accidental Invention of the Slinky

Slinky is a longstanding Blair County product! But how did it begin?

The idea for the timeless toy sprung to mind when Naval engineer Richard James dropped some coiled wires

05/01/2020
Kirk Leidy & Associates

Until Lakemont Park reopens its gates, enjoy this 1990s throwback from Kirk Leidy & Associates.

TBT - Lakemont Park - Chamber HOF 1997. Altoona Blair County Chamber Business Hall of Fame, Produced by Kirk Leidy Associates. #BlairChamber #Altoona #Business #HertiageAward #LakemontPark #KirkLeidyAssociates 🎥

Here is another stroll down memory lane! Park Hills Movie Theater opened in Altoona in May 1976. In this photo, John Res...
04/30/2020

Here is another stroll down memory lane! Park Hills Movie Theater opened in Altoona in May 1976. In this photo, John Resig assembles seats during the theater's expansion in 1990. The playhouse closed almost exactly forty years after it opened. What was the first and last movie you saw here?

04/29/2020
Fort Roberdeau

Because the gates and museum of Fort Roberdeau are currently closed, the site has shared its new orientation film online! This excellent short documentary skillfully examines the creation, operation, and legacies of the "Lead Mine Fort" in Sinking Valley. Check it out!

This month in 1778, Daniel Roberdeau ventured to Sinking Valley to establish the fort that would be named after him. In light of the temporary limitations of our visitor services due to the pandemic, we would like to make available to you our orientation film typically shown in our display area. This documentary was produced by local filmmaker Mark Frederick and offers a thorough outline of the fort's history. We hope you will come visit the site in-person when we reopen the fort gates!

Charging $1.75 for admission, Sir Skate on Altoona's Fairway Drive opened with much fanfare on February 18, 1981. The he...
04/28/2020

Charging $1.75 for admission, Sir Skate on Altoona's Fairway Drive opened with much fanfare on February 18, 1981. The heavily-used roller rink was a popular venue for birthday parties for nearly two decades until its spring 2000 closing. How many of you attended a birthday bash here?

In March of 1949, the "Saturday Evening Post" published a five-page spread about Altoona as the city celebrated its 100t...
04/27/2020

In March of 1949, the "Saturday Evening Post" published a five-page spread about Altoona as the city celebrated its 100th anniversary. We now present these pages for you to enjoy.

Constructed in 1905, Altoona High School between 5th and 6th Avenues was the city’s equivalent to Pittsburgh’s “Cathedra...
04/26/2020

Constructed in 1905, Altoona High School between 5th and 6th Avenues was the city’s equivalent to Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning.” Built of Hummelstown brownstone, the school was capped with a stately dome. Coinciding with Altoona’s ill-planned redevelopment in the late 1960s, school officials deemed the grand structure inefficient and called for its demolition. It was razed in June 1974. How many of you went to school here?

Altoona then and now: 13th Street leading into 11th Avenue in our historic downtown. The older photo was taken circa 194...
04/25/2020

Altoona then and now: 13th Street leading into 11th Avenue in our historic downtown. The older photo was taken circa 1940. Such images are a sad reminder of the many wonderful buildings we have lost but should motivate us to preserve what still stands!
Please donate to help preserve Blair County heritage http://www.blairhistory.org/

In honor of World Book Day: Looking for an interesting read during the pandemic? Check out "Illustrated Altoona," publis...
04/23/2020

In honor of World Book Day: Looking for an interesting read during the pandemic? Check out "Illustrated Altoona," published in 1896! It offers a unique view of Railroad City at the turn of the century. You can view/download this book for free thanks to Penn State University Libraries here: https://digital.libraries.psu.edu/digital/collection/digitalbks2/id/17993/

Happy Earth Day from all of us at the Blair County Historical Society! This gorgeous view from atop Wopsononock Mountain...
04/22/2020

Happy Earth Day from all of us at the Blair County Historical Society! This gorgeous view from atop Wopsononock Mountain was taken circa 1970 as part of a "Mystery Tour" available to motorists at that time. What is your favorite scenic or natural spot in Blair County?

These moments of social distancing are perfect times to take visual journeys down memory lane! How many of you remember ...
04/21/2020

These moments of social distancing are perfect times to take visual journeys down memory lane! How many of you remember our neighbors, Adler's Landscape Nursery, Inc. & Christmas Shop, when it was a hardware store? This scene was taken in the early 1950s. Did you know that the store sits on the former site of Elias Baker's flour mill, constructed in 1854 to make use of the nearby water power?

We are pleased by the overwhelming response to our Baker Mansion orientation film we posted on Facebook several days ago...
04/20/2020

We are pleased by the overwhelming response to our Baker Mansion orientation film we posted on Facebook several days ago. This is the poster for our film--featuring Elias Baker and his mansion. You can view the short documentary here: shorturl.at/cfxQV
Please share and help us tell the story of our historic site!

Elias Baker is social distancing, staying in his comfy mansion, listening to his music box, and communicating with his A...
04/19/2020

Elias Baker is social distancing, staying in his comfy mansion, listening to his music box, and communicating with his Alleghany Furnace workers on Zoom (although his wifi is not great). We welcome you to use the rooms of Baker Mansion as the backdrop for your next digital meeting. Find the link to the photo gallery in the comments section. Stay in and keep well!

Since our doors are still closed to the public, we would like to welcome you through the digital doorway of Baker Mansio...
04/17/2020

Since our doors are still closed to the public, we would like to welcome you through the digital doorway of Baker Mansion! These photos were taken in 2017 and several of the rooms have changed in appearance thanks to ongoing restoration work done by artist Michael Allison. When we reopen we welcome you to come and view the magnificent changes firsthand! These photos were donated to us by photographer John Burley.

Since our doors are still closed to the public, we would like to welcome you through the digital doorway of Baker Mansion! These photos were taken in 2017 and several of the rooms have changed in appearance thanks to ongoing restoration work done by artist Michael Allison. When we reopen we welcome you to come and view the magnificent changes firsthand! These photos were donated to us by photographer John Burley.

04/14/2020
Baker Mansion Visitor Center Film

Since the doors of Baker Mansion are currently closed to the public, we invite you to enjoy our orientation film shown to visitors before their tours. If you enjoy our online content, please make a donation on our website to help us with expenses while we are closed http://www.blairhistory.org/

04/13/2020

So, how are you coping?

During these trying times we all need family activities to help us get through this time of social distancing. We at the Blair County Historical Society have an idea for a fun family activity that we would like to share. History always takes the form of some kind of record, and the most fundamental form is the history of one’s family. Our suggestion is that you try making a personal history of how your family is coping ( or not) with our stay at home situation during the COVID-19 emergency. This record can take several forms, like a diary, especially one illustrated with drawings or photographs. Another would be to create some kind of “time capsule” with written notes, personal communications, objects and other memorabilia collected together and placed in a container, like a shoe box or a similar vessel. If this catches on, a future exhibition at the Baker Mansion Historic Museum could feature these documents. Send us an email at [email protected] or message us on Face Book if you decide to do this activity. Please stay healthy!

Thirty-three years ago today! Would you like to see this train on the rails once more?
04/12/2020

Thirty-three years ago today! Would you like to see this train on the rails once more?

Today in 1987: The famous K-4 1361 returned to the rails on a rainy day in Tyrone, Pennsylvania to the delight of railroad enthusiasts. Currently in storage at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, the celebrated locomotive may yet hit the rails once more! :-D

Photo courtesy of John Burley.
04/09/2020

Photo courtesy of John Burley.

Did you see the movie The Current War - Director's Cut? The film centers on the dynamics of Edison, Westinghouse, and Te...
04/06/2020

Did you see the movie The Current War - Director's Cut? The film centers on the dynamics of Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla at the outset of the electrical industry. Altoona makes a cameo in the film as an electric map shows cities with the new power. The Edison Electric Illuminating Company began providing the city with electricity in 1886, specifically to assist with Pennsylvania Railroad operations.

03/28/2020

The Blair County Historical Society has postponed its "Paranormal Seminar and Ghost Hunt" scheduled for Saturday, April 25th at Baker Mansion and it will be rescheduled later in the year

03/28/2020

The Blair County Historical Society has cancelled its Wednesday, April 15th Lecture at the Railroaders Memorial Museum "Vanished Altoona-Views of lost and forgotten Altoona buildings" by Michael Farrow. It may be rescheduled at a later date.

03/22/2020

Due to concerns about the Coronavirus, the Baker Mansion History Museum will remain closed to the public until further notice.

03/17/2020

The Blair County Historical Society’s Heritage Award Dinner scheduled for Saturday, March 28 at 5pm at the Lakemont Casino has been postponed. All those who purchased reservations will be notified of the rescheduled date and the reservations will be honored for the rescheduled award dinner. For additional information, call the Society at 942-3916 Tuesday through Sat 11-3.

03/16/2020

Due to the uncertainty being caused by the Corona Virus outbreak, The Blair County Historic Society, in cooperation with the Railroaders Memorial Museum is postponing this Wednesday’s talk. “Altoona’s Italians by Giudo Santella” will be rescheduled to a later date, to be announced.

03/16/2020

In accordance with the Governor’s suggested safety precautions, the Baker Mansion History Museum will be closed to the public starting tomorrow March 17th 2020. Please watch this space for future announcements concerning our hours of operation. Stay healthy, and we will see you soon.

03/08/2020

UPDATE FOR APRIL 11TH EASTER EGG HUNT - Easter Bonnet Contest Added to the Event!

You are invited to create and wear your own homemade Easter Bonnet for our first Annual Easter Bonnet Contest. The bonnet can be made from any material, including cloth, ribbons, flowers or even construction paper. Here is your chance to show off your creative style and have a chance to win a prize!

Two Grand Prizes will be awarded to the Best Bonnet:
1 Grand Prize for Ages 12 and Under
1 Grand Prize for Ages 13 to Adult

Registration begins at 10:00 AM in front of the gift shop.

Easter Bonnet Contest will begin at 10:30 and awards presented at 10:50.

Easter Egg Hunt begins at 11:00 AM.

Donations requested but not required to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Bonnet Contest.

The Baker Mansion will be opened at 12:00PM - 2:00PM for guided tours at a discounted rate. Admission for guided tour is $5 per person, admission for toddlers is free.

Rain or shine, so please dress for the weather.

Local teacher elected president of national music organization
02/25/2020
Local teacher elected president of national music organization

Local teacher elected president of national music organization

HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A local teacher was recently elected as President of the National Association of Music Education. Scott Sheehan started teaching at Hollidaysburg Hig…

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3419 Oak Ln
Altoona, PA
16602

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The Blair County Historical Society owns and operates for historic sites in beautiful central Pennsylvania including Baker Mansion in Altoona.

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Altoona High School students created a Gingerbread House of Baker Mansion.
Announcement - Great Portage Yard Sale and Portage Station Museum Rummage Sale is being held June 8. Maps of participating yard sales can be picked up at the Portage Station Museum 400 Lee Street Portage, or at any participating site. Participating sites will have balloons and a sign out front. This is a fund raiser for the Portage Area Historical Society and the Portage Station Museum. Come join us for a great day of sales!
Can anyone tell me after whom the Antis Township community of Tipton was named? The Blair County history books I've checked only say that it was named after early settlers named Tipton.
I felt like taking the camera on my dog walk tonight. Only half of the mansion was lit tonight but I thought it looked pretty cool.
Fake News 😂. From the Altoona Tribune Sept.18th 1862
Captured this during Sat. night's snow storm
I do photography and a took this picture of your beautiful mansion last night.
Local Historian Michael Farrow Architect of Downtown Altoona Rebuild (front page of today’s Altoona Mirror)
Had a great visit and tour at the Baker Mansion. Looking forward to seeing the Mansion decorated for Christmas. Good to see Michael Farrow and Julie Schokker at the Mansion.
Had a great visit and tour of Baker Mansion this afternoon. Looking forward to seeing the Mansion decorated for Christmas.
Interesting