- Burritt is an educational gold mine, bringing a little bit of Alabama history to life for visitors of all ages.
Burritt on the Mountain is a Hidden Huntsville Jewel
North Alabama has a historical treasure up on Monte Sano Mountain that’s been open to the public for more than 60 years and was once the personal home of physician and Huntsville native, Dr. William Burritt. After his passing, he left the property to the City, making it Huntsville’s first museum. Today, Burritt on the Mountain is a period teaching museum with 19th century structures, a replica Rosenwald Schoolhouse and the Burritt Mansion along with buildings that hold its welcome center and gift shop, classrooms, covered pavilions and special events space.
Burritt is a teaching time machine, complete with authentic and replica pieces in both the Mansion and the rural buildings, as well as warm, and hospitable staff dressed in garb from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Come for a quick visit to see the soaring vistas from the top, take a hike on one of the trails or pack a lunch and stay all day from opening to closing.
Our Visit to Burritt
We chose the perfect day to explore Burritt. This included me, my son, my friend, and her two daughters with ages of the kids ranging from 6-8 years old. We started our tour from the Welcome Center where we were given instructions on how best to enjoy the property.
Inside the Mansion
First up on the tour was the Burritt Mansion, to the left of the Welcome Center. This former residence gives you a glimpse of the time Dr. Burritt lived in the home and includes some great artifacts including fine art, a rare Steinway piano, custom china and even his vehicle which you can find restored and in the garage.
If you have questions while visiting, you can tune into an audio tour or speak directly to the knowledgeable docents on duty. For the kids, the inside of the mansion is a lot of “Be careful!” and “Don’t touch!”. Keep a close eye on them inside. My son longed to try out the piano, and to my horror and I caught him eying it just in time. After enjoying the inside, it was time to head outside to the 19th-century historic park.
Outdoor Fun at Burritt On the Mountain
The current exhibit, Treasure Hunt on Gold Mountain, is a clearly marked self-guided look at the lives of pioneers and miners in the 1800’s. The signage is large and informative, and we encouraged our kids to take turns and read aloud.
Burritt is an educational gold mine, bringing a little bit of Alabama history to life for visitors of all ages. We learned about the Indigenous tribes from the area and how they lived, peeked into the cabin of a formerly enslaved family, roamed inside historic log homes and pretended to do chores like children would have at that time. Our kids spent most of the afternoon, pretending to churn butter, wash clothes and gather eggs from the chickens. Repeatedly.
If you plan your trip for either the early morning or the evening closer to closing, you may even get the chance to help feed the property’s Barnyard Friends. The kids saw a gigantic black pig named SweetPea, chickens, goats, a mule, and sheep. If petting happens, don’t worry, hand washing is encouraged. In addition to a handwashing station, you’ll find a restroom attached to the welcome center with a baby changing area and a very elegant set of restrooms with fountains located inside the Rosenwald Schoolhouse.
We chose to eat lunch at the play area located in the center of the village. On the day of our visit we had the area to ourselves and the kids ate their lunch right inside the wooden train playhouse with slides attached. A few steps away from the Train, you’ll find a large outdoor train table with wooden trains and buildings that can be reconfigured. No matter where you choose to dine, you’ll find cleverly hidden trash cans nearby for both waste and recycling.
By the way, there are places to play throughout the exhibit, from pretend period stores and houses, a mini log flume for rafting, cabin building with giant Lincoln logs, and a real working Mining sluice. The thrill of the day was panning for their own precious stones and learning what each new gem was called.
The Replica Rosenwald Schoolhouse, is easy to skip considering how much there is to see and do at Burritt, but whatever you do, don’t miss it.
Inside is a four-room schoolhouse, outfitted with antique desks and memorabilia. Right inside the doors, you’ll find fascinating history about the origins of the Rosenwald schools and the influential Alabamians that brought such a notable educational institution to life for rural students. I loved seeing the black and white photos of the children in front of the original school building and of Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee University. You can see inside during your visit or plan to take a vocational class there, like basket weaving.
Food: Time passes quickly at Burritt on the Mountain, so pack a lunch. You can find light snacks like chips, candy, and drinks at the Welcome Center for purchase, but if you want a more substantial meal, bring your own. We found plenty of great spots to picnic, including benches outside of each cabin, a large pavilion with tables and chairs, and a large green area of lawn between the Welcome Center and the ground’s overlook of the city.
Take a Class: Classes aren’t just for children at Burritt on the Mountain. Sign up for a traditional folk craft with the Burritt Folk School! Make jewelry, try your hand at woodturning, smithing, or pottery. To find out more about educational opportunities at Burritt you can check their website.
Nature Trails: You’ll also find several hiking trails up on Round Top Mountain that circle Burritt and connect to the State Park. In fact, my family has enjoyed hiking to the large Cross on Rock Bluff Trails for many years. The trails are well maintained and contain a number of notable limestone rock formations and marked flora and fauna. The trails are free and can be accessed without entering the fee areas of the park. Trails are open during the park’s business hours.
Camps & Field Trips: In addition to tours of both the Burritt Mansion and the Historical buildings, Burritt offers Day Camps, Children’s Programs, Homeschool Classes (K-8), Field Trips, concerts, and special seasonal events.
We truly enjoyed every second of our visit to Burritt on the Mountain and we are both looking to convince our husbands that a membership would be a great investment. They participate in the Southeastern Reciprocal Membership Program (SERM) and the North American Reciprocal Membership Program (NARM) so a membership there also gets you in at many other places around the country! If you visit Burritt for any reason just twice a year the membership pays for itself!
The children have been begging to go back and I’d have to agree with them. Combining education and fun is always a wonderful outcome, that’s even better when it’s close to home.
Burritt on the Mountain Details
Hours: Open (November – March) Tues-Sat: 10AM-4PM Sun: 12-4PM
(April – October) Tues-Sat: 9AM – 5PM Sun: 12-5PM
Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
Admission Cost: Members are free!
Non-Members: Adults – $12, Children & Students – $8, Seniors (60+) & Military – $10, Children 2 and under Free
Burritt Membership: Starting at $30 for an Individual membership and $85 for the Family Membership. There is a $5 discount on membership at any level for Seniors and Military.
The park itself is both Wheelchair and Stroller Accessible with additional accommodations available upon request.
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Christal Gamble was raised in Triana, Alabama and graduated from Bob Jones High School. After spending 15 years in fast-paced Atlanta as an Art Gallery Director, Christal decided that she missed her Sweet Home Alabama and came back to reside in the very place she grew up. She’s now a full time wife, homeschool mom and blogger that enjoys reading, fine art, traveling, spending time outdoors, and volunteering with Triana Friends of the Library. You can find Christal and her 7 year old, Cash, encouraging and helping other parents with Learning at Home through their Multi-platform online presence, @Mamasweetbaby.