The Country Doctor Museum consists of three restored buildings that once housed the practices of 19th century NC rural doctors. The main building shown above houses the gift shop and the Museum's administrative office. The doctor's house, which contains most of the exhibits, is across the street. A carriage house, which sits behind the main building, is where you can find two horse drawn buggies and two early automobiles. Your visit to the museum is conducted by a tour guide. We must have been our tour guide's most raucous visitors with our toddler that couldn't stand still and our preschooler who kept complaining.
A trip through the doctor's house is a journey through medical practice that begins in pharmaceuticals and progresses to surgery and ends in obstetrics and dentistry. There are lots of artifacts to see along the way - from an apothecary cabinet to a 19th century exam table and Civil War era prosthetics. There are the expected bloodletting devices like lancets and an elaborately decorated urn labeled "leeches" - the unfortunate patient who saw the doctor entering with such a container could easily guess the proposed course of treatment. Our guide was very knowledgeable and helped to explain that a rural doctor would do most of his work in the form of house calls.
Oh yeah, and the movies have been lying to us - you know the ones portraying Civil War amputations occurring without anesthesia where the patient is told to 'bite the bullet.' According to our tour guide, ether and chloroform were in common use prior to the Civil War and those sadistic amputations done on fully conscious patients only happened if the surgeon ran out of anesthesia.
Judging by the tools displayed in the last room of the house, the practice of obstetrics doesn't seem to have changed much in the last 50 - 100 years. Most of the tools looked similar to today's implements. There was, however, some kind of birthing harness that, even with explanation, I couldn't visualize how a woman in labor could be helped by such a contraption.
Behind the house is an herb garden where plants are tagged as to how they would be used to cure various ailments.
The payoff for my toddler was when we entered the carriage house with its' buggies and early automobiles. All of the vehicles were owned by local rural doctors whose families donated them to the Museum. The earliest automobile is a 1912 Ford. The cars still run, according to our tour guide, who mentioned that they had just made an appearance in a local parade. Along with the cars, the carriage house contains an iron lung, more artifacts from rural doctors, and an exhibit on nursing.
Admission to the Museum is $5 per person and $3 for children 3 and up. There are a lot of artifacts to interest adults and the tour guide was very thorough. You'd probably be better off bringing school age kids to the Museum. My preschooler was somewhat bored and my toddler was rambunctious. Listening to the tour guide as if I were not distracted by my toddler yelling and whacking his mother seemed like a scene from a bad movie.
If you're looking for somewhere to eat in Bailey after visiting the Museum, I'd recommend the Bailey Cafe at the corner of Main and Hanover streets. The building was once the old general store and its' copious shelves are now filled with the proprietor's teapot collection. It's a country kitchen style restaurant where you can get a meat and two sides. The food is home cooked and moderately priced. Dessert is a highlight at the Cafe where pies and cakes are baked in house.
|the teapot collection|