The Museum Exhibits
The museum is composed of three buildings located on more than two acres of land within the township of Bailey. Guests register at the Farmer Annex located adjacent to the parking lot where docents begin guided tours of the museum complex.
The Freeman-Brantley Building
The Freeman-Brantley Building is composed of two rural doctor's offices that were relocated to the current site and connected together in 1967. Today, this building is dedicated to nineteenth century health care exhibits.
The first room in the Freeman-Brantley Building is the Apothecary. Originally Dr. Howard Franklin Freeman's office (1878 to 1915), it is now set as a nineteenth century apothecary complete with elaborate cabinetry, attractive sets of bottles, and equipment used to compound medicine.
From the Apothecary guests are led into the Doctor's Office, once the office of Dr. Cornelius.
Henry Brantley (1887 to 1940). The tour describes how rural doctors were paid - often in goods rather than money - and how they learned both from practical experience and formal education. Furnishings in the room range in date from the late 18th century into the early 20th century. The room also holds a Civil War era display.
The third room, originally part of Dr. Brantley's office, houses furniture and instruments commonly used by doctors in the late 1800's. Exam tables, surgical sets, dental instruments, blood-letting devices, and early microscopes are among the artifacts on display that give visitors insight into healthcare practices during the 19th century.
The Carriage House
Dependable transportation has always been essential to medical practice in rural areas. The Carriage House holds a buggy, a surrey, a 1912 and a 1926 Ford Model T. These vehicles, formerly owned by North Carolina physicians, illustrate the development of transportation during the early 20th century. Along with instrument bags, buggy blankets, portable apothecary chests, and other items in this exhibit portray how doctors traveled to assist patients in their homes.
A tribute to American nurses is also housed in this building. The nursing display features a hospital bed, a wheelchair and an iron lung. Equipment that nurses used including a blood pressure meter, a thermometer and bandages fill the cases in this area. A portion of the exhibit is also dedicated to the history of nursing and nursing education. Uniforms are displayed on a rotating basis.
The Farmer Annex
The Farmer Annex was originally built as a private home in 1891 by William Dempsey Farmer II. In 1994, Mr. Willis G. Farmer, Sr. donated the building to the Country Doctor Museum in honor of his uncle, Dr. William D. Farmer III. Today the building includes the gift shop, Museum office, and an exhibit room.
The gift shop offers a selection of books, souvenirs and local, hand-made treasures. The exhibit space features displays on such medically related topics as patent medicines, military medicine and medical instruments. This space is also used for conducting hands-on activities with small groups of students.
Eastern North Carolina Digital Library
A portion of the Country Doctor Museum collection can also be viewed in exceptional detail at the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library, an Internet-based educational resource funded through NC-ECHO.
Expanding the Exhibits and Collection
The Country Doctor Museum works constantly to actively collect, preserve, conserve, and present its collection in support of its mission to "interpret the history of medicine in rural America." Please contact us with your questions or comments.