Christian Heritage Museum

 

This was the official website of the Christian Heritage Museum for a number of years. The museum is now closed. The content below is from the site's archived pages.

Welcome to the Christian Heritage Museum. You are about to enter a privately owned collection of historic Bibles, books, manuscripts, sermon notes, and documents of Christian history, gathered for the past 25 years in order to preserve, protect, educate, motivate, and inspire others to live for Christ.

Nestled in historic western Maryland’s Washington County, the structure which houses the Christian Heritage Museum is a post and beam bank barn that was raised in 1917. Restoration of the historic barn began in the year 20__, and took _ years to complete. The newly renovated barn is the perfect complement for the Christian Heritage Museum.

Christian Heritage Museum
14111 Pennsylvania Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21742 

"To Preserve, Protect, Educate, Motivate, and Inspire Others to Live for Christ"

 

About Us

Gene S. Albert, Jr. is a 1975 graduate of Liberty University and a 1977 graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a student at Liberty when he accepted Christ at Thomas Road Baptist Church on September 29, 1971.

Gene's passion was obtained at college through his Christian history and theology classes. He then began collecting rare Bibles, antiquarian books, famous Christian autographs and original art. Sharing these antique treasures with the public through the Christian Heritage Museum reflects Gene's fervor for history. Whereas in the past, most would have needed to have special access privileges to universities or exclusive collections in order to view these rare artifacts of our Christian history, Gene's goal has always been "to preserve, protect, educate, motivate and inspire others to live for Christ."

Gene has also built a successful, multifaceted real estate business in his hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland. Creative Investments &Creative Home Builders encompasses land development, new home construction, and real estate investments. To date, the business has sold more than 1,000 building lots and over 500 new homes.

Gene has used his entrepreneurial spirit to develop Historical Reproductions, a company that utilizes state-of-the-art technology to make reproductions from original antique prints. In addition to these prints, Historical Reproductions offers sculptures and rare Bible pages and showcases over 150 Heroes of the Faith, including such people as Martin Luther, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, and Fanny Crosby. Historical Reproductions' mission is to provide quality Christian art for the home, school, church, and office. From the pages of history...We bring you Art for Today!

Rare Documents

Autographed Letters Signed

Signatures of famous people have been valued throughout history. In the past, autograph books were popular and included signatures from famous people of the day. However, these autograph collectors in the past usually valued only the signature itself, not the letters from which the signatures had come. Thus, they cut only the signature from the letter and pasted it to their autograph books. Unfortunately, because of this many rare documents were lost, but still the signatures themselves were preserved. However, today the importance of both signatures and entire contents of letters has been realized. Letters help to set the framework of the history surrounding the signature.

Our museum features hundreds of cut signatures, complete documents, manuscripts, and letters from great heroes of the past. Some of the signatures included are those of D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist; Charles H. Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers; David Livingstone, historic missionary to Africa; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in a Nazi concentration camp for his stand against Nazism; and many others, including John Wesley, Henry the Eighth, Thomas Cranmer, and much more!

Reformation

The Reformation, traditionally described as having been begun by Martin Luther in 1517, was the movement which gave rise to Protestant churches and the decline of the power of Roman Catholicism. The Reformation sought to "reform" Christianity by returning it to original beliefs based solely on reference to the Bible, eliminating later additions which accumulated in tradition.

The term "Reformation" is deceptive, but it is not one which can be dispensed with. There were reform movements and ideas long before Martin Luther appeared on the scene, and the concepts of reform and renewal certainly existed as part of church beliefs and tradition. Indeed, Martin Luther was not aware that he had started anything which should be labeled the Reformation or a new religious tradition.

The causes of the Reformation cannot be located in any one event or in any one aspect of medieval society. It wasn't just a matter of religion or politics or social discontent. It was, rather, a combination of all of these things - it was a problem which extended through all aspects of society and how people lived. There was dissatisfaction, discontent and malaise everywhere.

Signed Hymnwriter Pieces

View memorabilia from great hymnwriters of the past in the hymnwriters section of our Christian Heritage Museum. See signatures and documents by such people as Isaac Watts, the seventeenth century English hymnwriter who changed the church's view of psalms and hymns. Also included is Charles Wesley, who wrote numerous hymns, including the famed Christmas hymn "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and who was the brother of Methodist founder and evangelist John Wesley.

See more treasures of the past from Samuel Francis Smith, writer of "America," also known as "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and hymnwriter William Cowper, who wrote the hymn "There is a Fountain" and worked with Amazing Grace writer John Newton to produce the reputed Olney Hymns. "The Old Rugged Cross" writer George Bennard and many others are also among our featured notables of Christian hymnwriting.

 

Seattle Times
Saturday, August 19, 2006

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The antique-Bible market is hot.

But if you don't have the money to buy a first edition King James Version, you still can get your hands on one at the Christian Heritage Museum, whose owner invites visitors to touch and purchase some of the 20,000 pieces in his collection.

Gene S. Albert Jr. isn't selling his prized King James first edition, first issue, printed in 1611.

The book, also known as a "he" Bible for a masculine pronoun in Ruth 3:15 that was changed to "she" in later versions, sits atop a bookcase in the loft of the climate-controlled barn near Hagerstown that houses his museum.

But Albert, who has been collecting for 25 years, said he wants regular people, and not just scholars, to have access to the collection. Visiting the museum is free by appointment.

"We happen to believe that these were made and meant to be seen," he said, "and that's why we put them out for the general public."

On a recent tour, Albert picked up the King James first edition and encouraged a guest to touch a slightly yellowed page, its ornate letters and decorations still clearly legible after 395 years. The paper felt stiff and a little rough, like the cotton rags from which it was made.

Most owners of rare books balk at letting strangers handle them.

Liana Lupas, curator of the Scripture collection at the American Bible Society in New York, shares Albert's desire to grant visitors up-close experiences with historic volumes.

But, "if you let everybody just rifle through it, it's going to be damaged," she said.

So scholars are the only visitors allowed to touch the rarest pieces in the society's collection of 55,000 Bibles, Bible fragments and related documents, including three King James first editions, Lupas said.

"There's some sort of delicate balance you want to achieve somehow," she said.

Depending on their condition, King James first editions can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $400,000, according to David C. Lachman, an antiquarian book dealer in Philadelphia who specializes in theological works and Bibles.

Albert takes care with his collection by limiting the number of items that the public can handle and walking with them through the museum. And he said the King James first edition is made of a more durable paper that is less prone to disintegration, so the risk from touching it is smaller.

Collecting and displaying such pieces is a passion for Albert, a 54-year-old homebuilder, religious printmaker and graduate of Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University.

He also sells rarities at the museum. Among the items is a single page of a 1454 Gutenberg Bible priced at $20,000; a 1685 second edition of John Eliot's Algonquin Indian Bible, the first Bible printed in America, for $175,000; and two handwritten sermon notes by 19th-century English evangelist Charles H. Spurgeon for $275 each.

Lupas said the insured value of the American Bible Society's collection has quadrupled over the past 12 years. According to Robert Hodgson, dean of the society's Nida Institute of Biblical Scholarship, it is now worth more than $12 million.

Demand has grown with the Internet.

"Things are going for much more money than they used to as people understand the books are available," Lachman said. "A lot of people just sort of imagined that books of this sort could only be found in museums of one sort or another and didn't understand that there are enough copies out there that they can actually be bought and sold."

Demand is particularly strong for pre-1800 Indian Bibles — written, like the Eliot Bible, in phonetic languages invented by missionaries. Individual pages, or leaves, of antique Bibles are also strong sellers.

"People who can't afford a whole Bible think it's nice to have a leaf to frame and hang on a wall," Lachman said.

 

 

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