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."

Exciting progress in Railroad City!
05/11/2019

Exciting progress in Railroad City!

We’d like to thank our loyal and dedicated crew for a big surprise this week. 1361’s tender has been completely sandblasted and put into Works Gray. All with the support of volunteers and funding by the Emery Trust and Horseshoe Curve Chapter, NRHS. To be continued...

Thanks to Dink Gensimore for helping us redo some of the Mansion lawn in preparation of the summer season.
05/07/2019

Thanks to Dink Gensimore for helping us redo some of the Mansion lawn in preparation of the summer season.

Looking for a unique and lasting Mother’s Day gift? Give Mom a full-color, limited edition, signed copy of the newest ...
05/03/2019

Looking for a unique and lasting Mother’s Day gift? Give Mom a full-color, limited edition, signed copy of the newest history of Altoona, “First Frontier.” Released in 2018 for Altoona’s Sesquicentennial Charter Anniversary, there are only 50 (of 500) copies left. When these are gone you won’t be able to get this book. Order safely online with PayPal and it can be shipped directly to Mom or to you. See www.blairhistory.org

Book is $50 + $3 tax + $7 S&H
Plus ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE BAKER MANSION!
Order yours by May 8 and it will arrive in time for Mother’s Day or get one at Thompson’s Pharmacy to save shipping costs.

We are pleased to be teaming up with The Altoona Mirror on this unique commemoration!
05/03/2019

We are pleased to be teaming up with The Altoona Mirror on this unique commemoration!

MIRROR PLANS #DDAY75 COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

The Altoona Mirror will help remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day by publishing a commemorative edition on Thursday, June 6.

The edition will feature new and historic stories and photos, as well as re-creations of four authentic Mirror front pages from June 6-8, 1944.

If you have D-Day themed story ideas, please send them to Mirror Assistant Manager Editor Steve Carpenter at [email protected].

If your business would like to advertise in the commemorative edition or help sponsor copies to be distributed at veterans homes and area service organizations, please contact Mirror Sales Manager Tracy Brooks at 949-7021 or [email protected]

Our commemorative edition is also part of the seven-week series of events held in connection with the We Can Do It WWII traveling exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, May 25, at the Railroaders Memorial Museum.

We are very sad to hear the news of Lifetime BCHS Member, WW2 Vet, and Educator Richard S. Van Scoyoc's passing. Please ...
05/01/2019

We are very sad to hear the news of Lifetime BCHS Member, WW2 Vet, and Educator Richard S. Van Scoyoc's passing. Please join us in sending prayers, love, and support to the Van Scoyoc Family.

Richard S. Van Scoyoc, 102, Altoona, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

He was born in Bellwood, son of Edward A. and Flora (Sitman) Van Scoyoc. He married Margaret Carn on June 23, 1951, at Jaggard Memorial Methodist Church.

Surviving are his wife; and his son, Timothy of Altoona.

He was preceded in death by a sister, Lillian Botwright Clifford; and a half-brother, Roy.

Richard was a veteran of World War II. On Jan. 23, 1941, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army and served with the 305 Signal Company Airwing in Puerto Rico. After attaining the rank of sergeant, he was accepted into Air Corps Administration Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Fla., and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on Dec. 9, 1942. He then served as a supply officer with the 30th Troop Carrier Squadron, 89th Group at Dev Valle A.A.B. in Austin, Texas and the 55th Troop Carrier Squadron, Fifth Air Force, in New Guinea and the Philippines, rising to the rank of captain. He received the following medals for his service: American Defense Medal with Bronze Star; American Theater of Operations Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Medal with six Battle Stars; Philippine Liberation Medal with Bronze Star; Presidential Unit Citation; Good Conduct Medal; WWII Victory Medal; Armed Force Reserve Medal with Hour Glass Device; and Air Force Longevity Service Medal. Following the war, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969.

Richard graduated from Altoona High School in 1934. Upon returning from his military service, he attended Penn State University on the G.I. Bill, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1949 and a Master of Education in 1952. He taught math and history for the Altoona Area School District, four years at Roosevelt Junior High School and 26 years at Altoona Area High School. He also served for a time as a guidance counselor and for one year was acting secondary curriculum coordinator. He retired in 1979 after 30 years of service.

In 1939, Richard was granted a local preacher’s license in the Methodist Church, and he served for many years as a lay speaker in the Altoona District of the United Methodist Church. He provided pulpit supply for 61 different churches in central Pennsylvania on 327 different Sundays. He was a member of Christ Community United Methodist Church (formerly 58th Street United Methodist Church), where he taught Sunday school and held many offices, including lay leader, chairman of administrative board, church historian and Sunday school superintendent. Richard preached a final time at Christ Community church on his 100th birthday.

Richard was a life member of the Blair County Historical Society, where he served as a vice-president, trustee and member of the board of managers. He also drove for Meals on Wheels and was a board member and worker at the Altoona Food Bank.

Friends will be received from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, May 3, 2019, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 4, 2019, at The Good Funeral Home Inc., Alto-Reste Park, where a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, the Rev. Rebecca L. Holland officiating.

Memorial gifts may be made to Christ Community United Methodist Church Altoona or to the Blair County Historical Society.

thegoodfuneralhomeinc.com

Join author John Frederick at Baker Mansion on Wednesday at 7pm as he discusses the regional and national history and ge...
04/16/2019

Join author John Frederick at Baker Mansion on Wednesday at 7pm as he discusses the regional and national history and geography he experienced from the saddle of his bicycle. A book signing will follow. This presentation is free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted.

Join me at Baker Mansion on Wednesday April 17 at 7pm for a presentation about my bicycling adventures in Blair County and beyond. I will be signing copies of my book, "Winding Roads," following the lecture.

"Historic places that have stood for centuries are more valuable than the stones and beams which comprise them. These pl...
04/15/2019
Burning of Cathedral at Notre Dame a Painful Reminder of the Power of History

"Historic places that have stood for centuries are more valuable than the stones and beams which comprise them. These places are the mile-markers of society. Historic buildings, places and objects often represent our highest achievements, greatest dreams and the painful obstacles overcome in pursuit of something greater than ourselves."

Today, as flames engulfed the priceless and storied towers of the Cathedral at Notre Dame in Paris, France, the world looked on in horror. Social media exploded with gripping images of the conflagration and millions of voices across the globe lamented the loss. Inevitably, moments like this grab the...

Happy Easter from Baker Mansion
04/13/2019

Happy Easter from Baker Mansion

Thank you to everyone who came out this beautiful morning at Baker Mansion!
04/13/2019

Thank you to everyone who came out this beautiful morning at Baker Mansion!

Check out these amazing photos of Claysburg. Courtesy of Jackson-Township Historical Preservation’s page.
04/02/2019

Check out these amazing photos of Claysburg. Courtesy of Jackson-Township Historical Preservation’s page.

03/31/2019
3-29-19 Blair County Historical Society

We are grateful to K.C. O’Day who hosted an interview on the Women’s Room program with Joe DeFrancesco and Julia Plummer Schokker discussing Blair County History and the role of the Blair County Historical Society.
Here is a link to the podcast from The March 29, 2018 airing on WFBG, 1290AM.
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/kcoday/episodes/2019-03-27T08_42_51-07_00?utm_source=web-player&utm_medium=episode-link

You can hear KC’s program every Friday from 11am-12noon with re-broadcast on Saturdays 9-10am.

Joe DeFrancesco and Julia Schokker talk everything Blair County, from its beginnings, to Baker Mansion, and what's happening now!

Special thanks to Donna Gority for sharing her photo of last night's moon over Baker Mansion! We can imagine the Bakers ...
03/21/2019

Special thanks to Donna Gority for sharing her photo of last night's moon over Baker Mansion! We can imagine the Bakers looking up to a similar spring sky 170 years ago.

Spring is in the air! New roof going on the Lawruk Visitor Center at Baker Mansion.
03/19/2019

Spring is in the air! New roof going on the Lawruk Visitor Center at Baker Mansion.

Join us this Wednesday for the opening of our 2019 Mansion Lecture Series!March 20: The Life and Times of Moses Brown: H...
03/17/2019

Join us this Wednesday for the opening of our 2019 Mansion Lecture Series!
March 20:
The Life and Times of Moses Brown: Hollidaysburg Entrepreneur
By Harriett Gaston of the Blair County African American Heritage Project
Come learn about the colorful career of Moses Brown, a prominent ice cream manufacturer, caterer, restaurateur, and real estate owner in 19th century Hollidaysburg. Operating his business on Allegheny Street, he also once owned that land that is now the Sylvan Hills golf course. The talk will present a vivid portrayal of business and civic life in early Blair County. The presentation is free and begins at 7pm in the lower level of Baker Mansion.

Baker Mansion's cover photo
03/15/2019

Baker Mansion's cover photo

Transformation made possible by private donors and the talented craftsmanship of Micheal Allison. #bakermansionrestorati...
02/28/2019

Transformation made possible by private donors and the talented craftsmanship of Micheal Allison. #bakermansionrestoration #blairhistory #progress

Baker Mansion's cover photo
02/28/2019

Baker Mansion's cover photo

Photos from Baker Mansion's post
02/28/2019

Photos from Baker Mansion's post

A tranquil evening at Baker Mansion.
02/28/2019

A tranquil evening at Baker Mansion.

Things are shaping up for this small bedroom. Thanks to our restoration team at Michael Allison and StudioEFX.
02/26/2019

Things are shaping up for this small bedroom. Thanks to our restoration team at Michael Allison and StudioEFX.

Some really cool uncoverings at the mansion. Brick restoration in the kitchen is underway.
02/26/2019

Some really cool uncoverings at the mansion. Brick restoration in the kitchen is underway.

Wed. Feb 27 at Hollidaysburg Area Public Library local author Julia Plummer Schokker will give free lecture/slide presen...
02/24/2019

Wed. Feb 27 at Hollidaysburg Area Public Library local author Julia Plummer Schokker will give free lecture/slide presentation on 150 year history of Altoona based on the book, First Frontier: A Sesquicentennial History of Altoona, PA 1868-2018. 6:30 pm — a fun and interesting look at your hometown!

In the early morning hours of February 18, 1947, PRR Train 68, named the Red Arrow, jumped the tracks on the infamous Be...
02/18/2019

In the early morning hours of February 18, 1947, PRR Train 68, named the Red Arrow, jumped the tracks on the infamous Bennington Curve–killing twenty-four onboard and critically injuring scores of passengers. Altoona photographer Tom Lynam recounted, “I shone my flashlight inside [a car] and saw arms and legs sticking up” from the wreckage. The accident remains one of the deadliest in Pennsylvania history.

On this day, 165 years ago the World Famous Horseshoe Curve opened becoming a vital route for the Pennsylvania Railroad ...
02/15/2019

On this day, 165 years ago the World Famous Horseshoe Curve opened becoming a vital route for the Pennsylvania Railroad then and Norfolk Southern Corp. today. #blairhistory #horseshoecurve #railroadersmemorialmuseum

This came through Altoona the other night while most of you were asleep!
02/14/2019

This came through Altoona the other night while most of you were asleep!

The special move of Nickel Plate 757 made a stop in Altoona before sunrise this morning to get a fresh crew on board. This 1944 Lima product spent the last several decades on display at the Railroad Museum of PA. It's being moved to the Mad River and NKP Museum in Bellevue, OH. The 757 and caboose are being towed by an NS (former Conrail) GP38-2.
Visit the MR&NKP Museum web site here: http://www.madrivermuseum.org/

Today in 1943 in Blair County History:
02/03/2019

Today in 1943 in Blair County History:

Today in 1943, Chaplain George Fox, a graduate of Altoona High School, was one of four military chaplains on the sinking SS Dorchester who gave up his life vest in order to save others. The four lieutenants of different faiths joined arms and prayed as the ship descended into the Atlantic. Their sacrifice serves as a lasting legacy of how and why we should help others.

Recognizing local civil rights advocates on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we celebrate Dr. Daniel Hale Williams of Hol...
01/21/2019

Recognizing local civil rights advocates on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we celebrate Dr. Daniel Hale Williams of Hollidaysburg. Williams (1856–1931) was the most prominent African-American surgeon in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While he is best known for his pioneering achievements in open heart surgeries, his signal achievements were as an advocate for equal access to medical care and training for African-Americans.

Special thanks to Spice of Life photography for sharing their work with us!
01/20/2019

Special thanks to Spice of Life photography for sharing their work with us!

Baker Mansion
1.20.2019.
Relish in the beauty and tranquility of Winter snow....
Feel free to SHARE the beauty
Spice of Life photography by Tim Garlick

Kirk
01/15/2019

Kirk

I do photography and a took this picture of your beautiful mansion last night.

Let it Snow! #bakermansion
01/13/2019

Let it Snow! #bakermansion

We’re at it again! Now that 2019 is here more restoration is underway and so are exciting new exhibits to be unveiled ...
01/09/2019

We’re at it again!

Now that 2019 is here more restoration is underway and so are exciting new exhibits to be unveiled this May.

Thanks to our donors and volunteers for making Baker Mansion more relevant to younger generations.

Seen here is Micheal Allison continuing his excellent restoration talents. 1/8/19

First Frontier: A Sesquicentennial History of Altoona, PA 1868-2018 updateOne of our sharp-eyed followers noticed an err...
12/25/2018
BLAIR COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC

First Frontier: A Sesquicentennial History of Altoona, PA 1868-2018 update
One of our sharp-eyed followers noticed an error in the First Frontier book regarding St. Leo’s and Ss. Peter and Paul parish schools on p88. Can you spot the transposition error too? Thank you to Dave Rhoa for reporting this error to us.
Only 75 books left unsold. Visit Thompson’s Pharmacies to get your copy or www.blairhistory.org to order yours today or email the author for ordering information at [email protected].

Merry Christmas to all!

For over a century, the Blair County Historical Society at Baker Mansion in Altoona, PA has conveyed regional history and the story of the Elias Baker Family. Settling in the area in 1836, the...

Join us again this weekend for Heritage Holidays at Baker Mansion. Tours go 4-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 12-4 on S...
12/21/2018

Join us again this weekend for Heritage Holidays at Baker Mansion. Tours go 4-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 12-4 on Sundays through December 30. These days are also the last chances you have to see our Gable's Department Store and World War I temporary exhibits. Don't miss it!

Visitors have only six more dates during our holiday tours to explore our World War I centennial exhibit. As many of you...
12/20/2018
‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ Is a Stunning World War I Documentary

Visitors have only six more dates during our holiday tours to explore our World War I centennial exhibit. As many of you may know, the new Peter Jackson film They Shall Not Grow Old reflects upon many of the themes of our exhibit. The 3D documentary plays only one more time: 4pm on Dec. 27 at AMC 12 in Duncansville. We highly encourage you to see this powerful film.

The director Peter Jackson discusses the process of restoring 100-year-old footage for his new film and capturing the humanity of soldiers with unprecedented clarity.

Midnight tonight is the deadline to guarantee shipping arrival by Christmas OR pickup your copy at Thompson’s Pharmaci...
12/17/2018

Midnight tonight is the deadline to guarantee shipping arrival by Christmas OR pickup your copy at Thompson’s Pharmacies— only 80 more books unsold! Use PayPal on www.blairhistory.org or email the author directly at [email protected] before midnight to arrange shipping NOW with invoicing later.

Midnight tonight is the deadline to guarantee Christmas delivery for your First Frontier book. Anywhere in US!Use PayPal...
12/17/2018
BLAIR COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC

Midnight tonight is the deadline to guarantee Christmas delivery for your First Frontier book. Anywhere in US!
Use PayPal on www.blairhistory.org or email the author directly at [email protected] to arrange shipment NOW with invoicing later.

For over a century, the Blair County Historical Society at Baker Mansion in Altoona, PA has conveyed regional history and the story of the Elias Baker Family. Settling in the area in 1836, the...

12/17/2018

Allegheny Ukelele Kollective

12/17/2018

Here is Under the Boardwalk excerpt

12/17/2018

Altoona Brass Collective

The musicians who performed for the Yuletide tour of homes were outstanding. Thank you for a wonderful holiday evening
12/17/2018

The musicians who performed for the Yuletide tour of homes were outstanding. Thank you for a wonderful holiday evening

Address

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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