The Boalsburg Heritage Museum preserves the history of the Centre County village known for the Boal Mansion, Pennsylvania Military Museum, and Memorial Day celebration. The museum is in the Boalsburg historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum was founded on September 28, 1982, when a group of community members agreed to create a museum for local artifacts and memorabilia. Ruth Corter, a teacher, historian, and antique collector who grew up in Boalsburg, spearheaded the effort.
The name “Boalsburg Heritage Museum” was originally suggested by Homer Robert during a competition sponsored by the Boalsburg Village Conservancy, one of the supporters of the project. The original board of directors included Ruth Corter (president), Stuart Frost (vice president), Ron Coder (treasurer), Elinor Green (secretary), Fern Hess, and Anne Riley.
Initially, the group had no permanent site for the organization. In 1985, a historically significant home, the Myers-Sweet house, went up for sale. Tom and Katie Aikens offered to purchase the house as home for the museum under the condition that $25,000 was raised to operate the museum. The funds were raised and the home purchased.
The Myers-Sweet house, built in 1825, was initially the site for a tannery on the outskirts of the village. It continued operating as a tannery until the early 1900s when the property was turned into a farm owned by Philip Meyer.
The house was purchased by William and Alice Myers (no relation to Philip) in 1902. They added a summer kitchen, bank barn, and corn crib.
The property was also the home of the “lighthouse,” a hydroelectric generator that provided power for the first electric lights in Boalsburg, until 1911 when West Penn Power connected Boalsburg to its system. The lighthouse building and parts of the generator remain on site.
Sarah Myers purchased the property from her father’s estate in 1932. She became a beloved community member, known as “Grandma Sweet” for serving as a grandmother figure for the children of the town, including Ruth Corter.
The museum, located at 304 East Main Street, houses furniture and other household items from the 19th and early 20th centuries. On the first floor is a replica Victorian sitting room with furniture donated by community members. An exhibit of past Boalsburg bands includes a banjo band from 1929 and a Civil War band from 1861.
Rotating exhibits include historic Boalsburg baseball paraphernalia, antique dolls, and toys. On the second floor, there are three Victorian-style bedrooms including handmade and early machine-made furniture, a Civil War exhibit, a re-creation of the local country store, with items donated by descendants of the family that ran the store in town, and a schoolroom.
The museum supports Boalsburg’s annual Memorial Day and Christmas celebrations and organizes the Oktoberfest and Halloween community events. It also sponsors lectures, publications, and special displays.
McIntyre, Vickie. “Boalsburg’s Time Capsule,” Town and Gown. May 1992, 40-50.
Klose, Jason. “History thrives at Boalsburg Heritage,” Centre Daily Times, 2015.
Boalsburg Heritage Museum. https://boalsburgheritagemuseum.org (Accessed July 7, 2023)
First Published: July 26, 2023
Last Modified: August 24, 2023