Old Castle Hall, built in 1858, is an excellent example of vernacular architecture, listed on the National Register. It was the first university building in Kansas, providing the first home for Baker University and the United Methodist Church and was the social center of the town as the site for public debates. Jim Lane, the first senator of Kansas, and Charles Robinson, the first governor of Kansas, have both spoken in this building. It has also served as students' rooms, a public high school, a grist mill, a laundry, and several other uses. Today, it is a treasured museum housing artifacts such as Dr. A.T. Still's tools, many Indian artifacts, a part of a grindstone from John Baldwin's quarry in Ohio, historical articles from Baker University and Baldwin City.
Rotating exhibits highlight our significant role on Freedom's Frontier. Exhibits on the Santa Fe Trail include vintage and aerial photos of Baldwin City's swales or ruts made by the many wagons traveling the trail. Artifacts include oxen yokes and shoes and a teapot and key from the Santa Fe Trail hotel. A buckskin outfit belonging to a Methodist circuit rider and Rev. Still's pulpit highlight the many challenges faced by the Methodist Church in the early days of Kansas. An exhibit on and artifacts from the Battle of Black Jack, thought by many to be the first battle of the Civil War, include bullets from the famed Sharps rifles and others, a drum shot during the battle and other artifacts unearthed at the site.The Old Castle Museum is open by appointment. Please contact Jen McCollough by e-mail or phone at at either 785.594.8380 (office phone) or 785.766.2667 (archives cell phone).
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