Belhaven Memorial Museum, Belhaven, NC

Belhaven
Memorial Museum

The Belhaven Memorial Museum is in many ways indistinguishable
from its countless local museum brethren. It has no money. It has no air conditioning.
It’s staffed by a nice senior citizen lady who would like to retire, but can’t
find anyone to take her place.

What makes Belhaven remarkable is that it holds the collections of Mrs. Eva

Blount Way, a seriously eccentric woman who simply couldn’t throw anything away.

Mrs. Way died in 1962 at age 92, and all the stuff originally in her home
was moved to the museum three years later. Her sprawling house, abandoned ever
since, crumbles on the outskirts of town. Prospective buyers are probably terrified
at the thought of what lies beneath its floorboards.

Exhibits of Note

  • Three freak, prenatal babies in jars (given to Mrs. Way by the town doctor)
  • Large, pickled tumors retrieved from the local hospital (the biggest weighs
    ten pounds and fills a ten-gallon aquarium)
  • A one-eyed fetal pig, a two-headed kitten, a harelipped dog, and mummified
    squirrels
  • Several snakes killed by Mrs. Way; one stuffed, swallowing a wooden egg,
    another made into a necktie
  • A dress worn by a local 700-pound woman (she died in bed and had to be
    craned out the window)
  • An unspent Civil War shell
  • A ten-inch-wide ball of string (saved by Mrs. Way)
  • A German W.W.I half-boot (looks like it was amputated along with the foot)
  • 30,000 buttons (collected by Mrs. Way)
  • A flea bride and groom (may be viewed with a magnifying glass)
  • Hideous ingrown toenails and cataracts
  • Jars of Mrs. Way’s home canned products (now well over 30 years old), including
    one blob labeled “chicken fat.” The museum sells souvenir cookbooks.

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One Response

  1. I got a good laugh out of this post. I was just talking with my son about the funny oddness of the Belhaven Museum. My parents grew up there, and i visited a lot when I was a child. We were fascinated with the fetuses. My Daddy said the doctor used to keep them in a jar in his office when he was a kid, so you know they are very old.

    The dressed up fleas were what the poor docent would try to interest us with, but we always made a bee-line for the, um, bizarre medical section. Also the button collection, I mean, how boring is that for a child? It was the one eyed pig, fetuses, tumors or nothing with us!

    I was thinking recently how extremely bizarre the dressed up fleas were. How do you dress a flea, for God’s sake?

    It is one memorable place. I remember later when my sons were little I didn’t want them to see the section that so fascinating me when I was a kid.

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