People and Places: Belhaven Memorial Museum

People and Places

The Belhaven Memorial Museum is a Beaufort County landmark that is truly unlike any place you have ever seen.

“If you don’t see the place, you have missed an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Patricia Owen Harris, the owner. “I just about guarantee if you can think of it, we’ve got it.”

Parasites dressed in white for their wedding day?

“Oh, we have dressed fleas,” said Harris. “Little bride and groom dressed fleas. I like those a lot.”

Mutated animals? 

“We have what I call a section of dead and creepy things,” said Harris. “All kinds of things in jars. Everything from snakes to two-headed pigs to little two-faced kittens. You name it, it’s in there somewhere.” 

The collection started with Mary Eva Blount Way, known as Miss Eva, who died in 1962. 

“She gathered a bunch of stuff,” said Harris. “She started off with a bunch of buttons that her mother-in-law gave her. And she liked to save stuff.”

Most of the “stuff” that makes up the collection was inside Ms. Eva’s house, just four miles outside of town. She even opened her house for people to play and get a look.

“So she could gather money to give to the Red Cross to help the men that were fighting World War II,” said Harris. “She kept her house open until she died in the early 1960s. And the town bought her museum and opened it up here.”

Since then, Ms. Eva’s collection of 30,000 buttons, plus clothes, dishes and some of the other, weirder contributions have found a home on Main Street. The building has plenty of history, too. 

“The building was built in 1910,” said Harris. “It’s been here forever. It’s survived every kind of hurricane there was. This used to be the city hall. And if you look on the floor, you’ll see marks for a basketball court because they played basketball here, too. They also had plays here and they showed movies here.”

A 108-year-old building housing a one-of-a-kind museum that will leave you amazed and entertained.

“I hope that a lot of people come because I love to talk to the people that come, and I like to hear where they come from and a little bit about their area,” said Harris. “We’ve actually got people that came from Europe, Canada, Africa. To me, that’s exciting.”

As for the creepy-crawly things in jars, many were put there by Ms. Eva herself. 

In fact, she killed dozens of snakes in her yard with a garden hoe, some of which are still on display at the museum.

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