The Centre County Library Historical Museum is located in the historic 1814 Miles-Humes house at 203 North Allegheny Street in Bellefonte. Included in there are:
The Sieg Industrial Room
This space highlights on Bellefonte’s industrial history, and honors the memory of William P. Sieg, president of Titan Metal Company (later Cerro Corporation and then Bolton Metals, before closing in 2008); his son, William W. Sieg; and the Sieg Family. The Sieg Room was dedicated on June 24, 1989, after renovations funded by a generous grant from a group of former Titan employees, who also did much of the actual renovation work. Of interest in the Sieg Room are:
- Titan products in the display case just inside the door.
- A decorative bottle, chain, and canes made at the glassworks that operated in Bellefonte from 1867-1903.
- Memorabilia from the match factory in Bellefonte, the axe company in Axemann, and items relating to the county iron industry.
- In front of the fireplace, a bar of iron from Hecla ironworks, found buried in a farm field. Bars like this could be bent into U-shape and loaded on the backs of mules and carried over the mountains to market.
- The piano, a square grand, belonged to the Valentine family, prominent in the early iron industry. It is said to be the first piano in Bellefonte, brought from Philadelphia on the canal boat.
- In the middle of the room, items recalling Bellefonte’s status as the only scheduled landing place in Pennsylvania for the first U.S. air mail route, beginning in December 1918. The combination of frail planes, little navigation equipment, and harsh terrain led to many crashes. The rusted remains in the bottom of the display case are pieces of the Liberty engine from the fatal crash of Charles Hayden Ames, above Hecla, in 1925. Ames and his plane were lost for 10 days, until even national newspapers such as the New York Times were following the story.
- On the table (itself imported from England and donated by the Sieg family) is the bronze plaque from the federal government honoring Titan’s defense production efforts in World War II.
- An upholstered settee donated by Mrs. Catherine Sieg is now across the hall in the Textile Room.
The Linn Room
This space honors the Linn family of Bellefonte, beginning with John Blair Linn, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and author of the 1883 definitive history of Centre County. Mary Hunter Linn, his daughter, was the first curator of this museum, and a bequest from her estate helped to fund the purchase of some of the items in this room. Some of the furnishings had been in the house on Allegheny St. where John Blair Linn grew up (now the Bellefonte Museum of Centre County).
- Portraits of various members of the Linn family are on the walls. The image of Mary Wilson Linn, wife of John Blair, is on the wall to the right as you enter (oval frame). The dress that Mrs. Linn wore to Lincoln’s inaugural ball is displayed on the mannequin in the corner.
- On the mantel is a photograph of Henry Sage Linn, John Blair’s son. Henry’s curls are in a box next to it. The mirror over the mantel came from the Linn home.
- The red-plush armchairs were made in Bellefonte.
- The Revolutionary-era copper kettle in the fireplace is from Fort Hunter, Dauphin County.
- The high desk and Philadelphia Chippendale chair: Linn family tradition says the chair came from the State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia.
- The carpet next to the sofa was made for Mary Hunter Linn in 1928 by orphans from the Near East Relief in Philadelphia, in appreciation for her efforts on their behalf.
The Main Museum Room
...contains various items from the Museum’s permanent collections.
- The Society of Friends (Quakers) had a strong influence on the early affairs of Bellefonte and other parts of Centre County. The display case contains various items of Quaker dress, and artworks depicting Bellefonte produced by a member of the Valentine family. The Valentines were Quakers who prospered in the iron industry here.
- The display case on the Allegheny St. side of the room contains uniforms, photographs, and trophies from earlier days of Centre County baseball.
- Toys and dolls are shown in the display cabinet in the front corner. Atop the cabinet are examples of Bellefonte souvenir ruby art glass.
- When this house was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, the fireplace surround was described as “an exceptionally nice carved mantelpiece of the early period” in the application. “The early period” would refer to the Federal-style original house (built 1814), before the Victorian renovations of the 1890’s.
- The photograph to the right of the fireplace is of Thomas Pendleton, a former slave who is said to have come to Bellefonte via the Underground Railroad, and then lived out his life here.
- Few plaster maquettes (scale models, especially for monumental public sculptures) survive from George Gray Barnard’s artwork for the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, so the example under the Pennington photo is a rarity. Barnard was born in Bellefonte on May 24, 1863, in the home that is now the Barnard House bed and breakfast on E. Linn Street. Barnard’s father was the minister for the church at the corner of Linn and Allegheny that is now offices for the Bellefonte Area School District. Barnard sculpted many images of Abraham Lincoln – one example is in Talleyrand Park and another is in the vestibule inside the front door to the Museum building.
- The display case on the back wall contains Civil War-related items in the Museum’s collections. Many of the artifacts – the drum, leather belt, etc. – belonged to Simon Harper, born in Rebersburg, Centre County. Harper, a drummer in Co. A, 148th Regiment of the Pa. Volunteers, survived the War and became a successful businessman in Centre Hall. Photographs of Harper and his wife are on the wall in frames that he made in “soldiers’ rest camp” during the war. The frames are of notched pieces of wood, connected without nails or glue.
The Textile Room
...displays Centre County woven and quilted materials, and a rare 19th century marquetry sewing cabinet.
- To the right as you enter the room, there is a hook holding visitors’ guides to the numbered items on display.