Just passing through: Red Bay Museum
For a trip through the history of Red Bay, one need look no farther than the Red Bay Museum – another stop on the Franklin County Pastport.
“The Pastport is a wonderful way to encourage people to go to sites they otherwise wouldn’t think of going,” said museum curator Scotty Kennedy.
The museum was opened in 2006 in downtown Red Bay by the Red Bay Civitan Club. The idea for a museum came about when former Congressman Carl Elliott was putting together the Red Bay history book “100 Years of Memories.” Club members recognized many items from the city’s past were still around and needed to be preserved, and it was decided those owning the items would hold onto them, and additional items would be sought until a place was found to display them.
The museum houses many exhibits and re-creations of landmarks from Red Bay’s past. Upon entering the museum, guests are greeted by a replica of the hotel lobby, with the actual furnishings, of the old Hotel Red Bay. Other displays include a soda fountain from the drug store, the Bay Theater, original bank teller windows from the city’s first bank, the medical clinic, church interiors and many items from the Red Bay Depot. Home life, schools, businesses and military displays are also showcased.
One of the museum’s largest attractions is the exhibit featuring Tammy Wynette, who was born and raised in Mississippi but called Red Bay her hometown. Wynette has done several benefit concerts for Red Bay throughout the years, as well as served as grand marshal for the Red Bay Christmas Parade.
“One of the main comments made by visitors to the Red Bay Museum is they had no idea we had this many items – and how large the museum is, actually over 7,000 square feet of displays,” said Kennedy.
Prominent visitors have included two of Alabama’s first ladies, Patsy Riley and Diane Bentley; Lee Sentell, chairman of the Alabama Tourism office; and many other state officials, as well as other state and national business leaders visiting the city.
The museum continues to grow with new items constantly, and displays change to keep the tour fresh and different for those returning. One of the newest exhibits is dedicated to former state representative Johnny Mack Morrow, who hosted archaeological digs on his property that unearthed many historic artifacts.
The museum is open Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30-4 p.m. with a $5 admission. Tours can be booked by contacting Kennedy at 256-356-8758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.