Built in 1855 for brothers Ernest and Henry Carter and their families, the Carter House in Elkader serves as a historic site. Located just a block away from the Clayton County Court House, the Carter House now serves as a museum, preserving artifacts of the town’s past. The Elkader Historical Society runs the house so the town’s past and records are not lost, and to promote interest in the town’s history. As a history buff myself, I had to make a trip to the museum.
On a warm summer weekend, I visited the Carter House Museum in the scenic Turkey River town of Elkader. Before I walked into the Carter House, I could hear the water crash and bubble as the Turkey River flowed over the dam. I looked back at the museum and admired the structure. It was a Greek Revival style mansion and was built as a mirror, or double house, to hold both of the Carter brother’s families. My senses were tingling, and I couldn’t wait to see the history inside.
The side of the structure was huge. The Carter House Museum is composed of 18 rooms all filled with preserved history. I ambled through the rooms and took in the vast history and learned more about the Turkey River town than I thought I’d ever need to know. One of my favorite exhibits was a display of the Elkader Band bass drum along with an old marching band uniform. I could almost hear the rhythmic boom it would have made in its prime; it would have kept the beat for a lively marching band, all dressed in bright red uniforms, with shimmery piccolos and brassy trombones, all led by a band director at the front. It was a blast from the past, and it got me excited to see the rest of the exhibits at the Carter House Museum.
The museum was full of insightful historic items. I found it very hard to leave. One room had a display of different cobs of Indian corn held in a stand, and it reminded me of the autumn. Fall in Clayton County was always my favorite time of the year. The leaves changed colors, fall festivals could be enjoyed across the county, and the smell of freshly baked apple pie often filled the air along with other apple-themed pastries and treats. It always amazes me how one simple experience can bring back so many memories.
The Carter House Museum is full of preserved exhibits of the town’s history, all for the sake of historic preservation and the promotion of awareness and appreciation of the town’s history. It's an amazing experience, and a place where the past truly does return to you when you visit.
Written by Jayna Felder | Photo Credit to the Clayton County Development Group