Cover Image: “Buttons — 30,000 of them — are a joy to Peg McKnight of the Belhaven Memorial Museum, Belhaven, North Carolina, USA, 1979”

Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

While driving around Belhaven, one would think that it’s just your ordinary North Carolina town. Everybody who lives here seems to know everybody else who lives here, and they even wave at those they don’t know as they pass through town. However, in downtown Belhaven you’ll find a building that belies its friendly small-town atmosphere — a museum that the Belhaven Chamber of Commerce calls “unique,” but others have called “the creepiest museum in the world.”

Miss Eva’s Buttons

The Belhaven Memorial Museum is the result of one woman’s apparent obsession with not being able to throw anything away. Some might call it hoarding. Others call it art. (It’s all in how you curate.)

Mrs. Mary Eva Blount Way, known affectionately by the locals as “Miss Eva,” was an avid collector of everything,and it’s her collection that makes up the entirety of what’s on display. It all started the day Miss Eva’s mother-in-law gave her some antique buttons. From then on, Miss Eva was hooked on collecting — buttons, whale bones, Christmas decorations, farm tools, children’s toys, you name it.

Miss Eva among some of her collections.
Image: Public Domain

As more of the local townsfolk found out about her penchant for collecting, they donated items — some pretty normal, some “unusual” — and Miss Eva displayed them in her house alongside her own treasures.

When America entered World War II, Miss Eva wanted to do her part for the war effort. So, she opened up her home to visitors who paid a small fee to see her collection, with all of the money going to the American Red Cross. It was so popular that she moved her eclectic collection — now numbering 10,000 objects (!) — into the family’s barn, where visitors would come from all around the country to see the treasures.

You Can’t Take It With You

Miss Eva would die in 1962; however, that wouldn’t be the end of her collection. The citizens of Belhaven really loved Miss Eva, and although she was dead, they thought it would only be proper and fitting to keep her memory alive. They petitioned the local government to buy Miss Eva’s collection and find a permanent place to display it. The local government agreed, and they turned Belhaven’s old town hall into the Belhaven Memorial Museum, which officially opened on April 1, 1965.

The Belhaven Memorial Museum is located in the old Belhaven City Hall on the Second Floor.
Image: Property Wizard, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Today, you can view over 30,000 buttons Miss Eva amassed, a dress worn by a 700-lb. lady, a pair of fleas dolled up in formalwear as a bride and groom, antique dolls and furniture, war relics from the Civil War and both World Wars, and even period fashions.

Pickled Punks and Fleas Dressed to the Nines

Wait a minute, you might be saying. I thought you said this museum is creepy.

Two words: It is. In fact, it’s Miss Eva’s collection of oddities that most people come for. We should warn you, however, these displays are definitely not for the squeamish. It includes big glass jars filled with formaldehyde and such macabre things as two-headed cats, one-eyed pigs, and giant tumors donated by local doctors. Indeed, you’ll see things in this museum that you’ll not find at any other museum in the world.

A cyclops pig is just one of the creepy things you’ll see in the jars of the Belhaven Memorial Museum.
Image: Justin Casey via Haunted Pamlico’s Facebook page.

Come and See ‘Em at the Museum

The Belhaven Memorial Museum is on the 2nd Floor of 213 E. Main Street. The museum is open every day except Wednesdays, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, and there is a gift shop that sells local books and cookbooks. (Miss Eva apparently collected recipes, too. Here are some of her favorites.)

With so many Stuckey’s in the Carolinas, you’re bound to run into one of our classic signs on your next road trip through the Cackalackies. Be sure to stop in one and browse through our selection of fine pecan candies, including our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, Pecan Divinities, and Pecan Pralines that are better than you remember. While you’re there, check out all of the other road trip snacks and classic candy, and kitschy souvenirs for you and the folks back home.

And speaking of back home, don’t forget that you can order Stuckey’s online and have it sent right to your front door. If you can’t figure out what to get, surprise yourself and your loved ones with a Stuckey’s Mystery Box. What’s in it? Well, each one is different. We start by tossing in a Pecan Log Roll. Then, we grab whatever is nearby. Will it be John Wayne Water Bottles, High School Musical Keychains, Summer Sarongs, Frozen Memorabilia, Sock Monkey Toys, Redneck Flyswatters, Shake Pens, Inspirational Mini-Books, or other treasures?

Buy a Mystery Box and find out!

Visit stuckeys.com.

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!