The Baldwin County Heritage Museum, located in Elberta, was established in 1987 to preserve and commemorate the history the settlement of Baldwin County. The museum displays historically significant buildings, documents, and artifacts that typify community life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The facility consists of a 20,000-square-foot main building and five acres of grounds and features a church founded in 1909, a blacksmith shop, vintage farm implements, and a school house.
Baldwin County Heritage Museum The idea for the Baldwin County Heritage Museum began during Elberta’s Diamond Jubilee (75 years) celebration in 1979. For that event, farmers displayed antique farm equipment as a reminder of Baldwin County’s agricultural roots. This exhibit inspired the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the County Home Demonstrations and Extension agent to establish a museum dedicated to recording and preserving Baldwin County history. John and Ruby Haupt donated five acres of land to the Chamber of Commerce. In 1981, the Baldwin County Heritage Museum Association was formed and grounds were dedicated that year for the construction of the main museum building, which was completed in 1984. In 1986, volunteers erected a working windmill. On October 31, 1987, the first building was opened.
The museum aims to educate visitors about agricultural life, which was the center of culture and the economy for the majority of Baldwin County’s residents during the early twentieth century, and to demonstrate the realities of running a homestead. The main building has six display rooms featuring recreations of period schoolrooms, offices, and homes decorated with period artifacts, such as clothing, quilts, farm tools, and a player piano. The museum also showcases a display of military artifacts from World War II to honor those individuals from Baldwin County who fought in the conflict.
The museum has several outbuildings that include the Haupt Building, a work area for volunteers helping to preserve the museum’s larger artifacts. The town of Loxley in Baldwin County donated a potato shed from its annual Strawberry Festival to the museum. The museum contains a replica general store as well as the one-room Mifflin School House. The onsite church was originally the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, a one-room structure built in 1909 and moved to the museum grounds in 1988. (The congregation constructed a more substantial church of brick in the 1920s. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.) A Fairbanks-Morse engine stands by the parking lot entrance.
The museum hosts a variety of activities throughout the year. These programs include the BCHM Golf Scramble at Glen Lakes Golf Club. Its Veterans Day Program showcases a special World War I and World War II Baldwin County Memories exhibit. The Christmas Celebration features an Angel Memory Tree and Christmas tree exhibit. The BCHM is funded by the Baldwin County Commission as well as by donors and foundation grants to fund special projects. It is located at 25521 U.S. Highway 98 East and is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Nearby are the many attractions of Mobile Bay, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach.