Red Bay, with a population of about 3,500 people, is located in the northwest corner of Alabama on the Mississippi state line. The town is named for the red clay and bay trees, both in abundance when the town was founded. The post office was established in 1887, but he city wasn't incorporated until July 1907.
In the early 1980's, the Red Bay Civitan Club was made aware that there was no written history of the town and surrounding area. The club then commissioned former Alabama Congressman and Vina, Alabama native, Carl Elliott to be the author of a Red Bay history book, later named One Hundred Years of Memories, An Oral History of Red Bay, Alabama (1888-1988). While doing research on the book, it was discovered that many items related to Red Bay’s past were still located in the area. The idea to one day house these items in some way was born then, and through the years other items were located and a search for a place to display these items began. In 2004 a building was secured to finally display these treasures from the area, and work began on constructing displays that would showcase these to their best advantage.
A large portion of the top floor of the museum is dedicated to country music star Tammy Wynette, originally from Tremont, MS where she was born and went to school. Being the closest town to where she lived, she called Red Bay, Alabama her hometown where she shopped, visited relatives and went to the movie theater. Three of her daughters have visited the museum and donated items from their mother. Georgette, the daughter of Tammy and George Jones, donated a small pair of red cowboy boots she wore as a child on stage with her parents. Several items from her family have been donated including clothes and iron gates to one of her homes in Nashville, that include the initials TW and GJ for George Jones. The wedding dress she wore when she married George Jones is on display along with several gowns that she wore on stage.
Other noted items on display is the re-creation of the Red Bay Hotel lobby, complete with original counter, key holder, neon sign, room door with transom and staircase, all restored to their original grandeur; an original soda fountain from an early drug store; the Bay Theater’s original ticket window glass, ceiling light fixtures, theater seats and player piano used when the theater was first built for silent movies; the original fixtures from Red Bay's first bank, the Bank of Red Bay; and items from many of the older homes in Red Bay, including an oak mantle, dresser, sewing machine, and other household items.