Burritt on the Mountain: An Open Air Museum Worth a Visit

Burritt schoolhouse

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If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend in the city of Huntsville Alabama, Burritt on the Mountain is worth a visit! This open air museum offers a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. From historic buildings to beautiful gardens, there is something for everyone at the Burritt Estate.

Burritt on the Mountain: An Open Air Museum Worth a Visit

I absolutely love “natural history museums” where people dress in period costumes, share a peek into days gone by, and help kids of all ages learn about the past in an entertaining way. Burritt not only offers a hands-on experience for visitors to explore but is great for everyone from toddlers to seniors. I like to think of the people who help create these recreational experiences as history interpreters.

Hands down, Burritt on the Mountain is one of my favorite Huntsville attractions! We believe that travel can be not only fun but also educational – it really is a gift that you can give your children.

Who was Dr. William Burritt?

Dr. William Burritt was a homeopathic physician who survived three wives over a period of 51 years and accumulated wealth over children, mostly from his second wife Josephine Drummond of St. Louis. As he had no heirs, his vast estate was left to the city for the purposes of becoming Huntsville’s first museum. It is a fantastic peek into the farming and lifestyle of the people in the 1800s.

Dr. Burritt’s Home

Dr Burritt's Mansion
Here is the front of the Burritt Mansion – you can tell we were there on a rainy day

The design was as eclectic as his interests – a unique X-shaped design that allowed for a variety of amazing area beautiful views as well as a ton of natural light.

The first one was insulted with bales of wheat straw – a disaster just waiting to happen. It is no surprise that it caught fire before he was able to move into it and it had to be rebuilt.

He wisely used a lot of concrete influx items to rebuild and create a safer final building – think of it as the home or rock, stone, and steel. When you add an incredibly safe building to the mountain air, natural spring waters, and generous plot of land? Dr. William Henry Burritt’s eclectic mansion sure does seem like an incredible place to plan your retirement!

More Burritt Mansion History

After his home was established, his passion for the natural world led him to create a fruit and vegetable farm, which he ran with goat dairy on top of it. He sold his produce in the city, along with a portion of goat milk…keeping the rest for himself. Talk about a unique hobby farm!

Burritt on the Mountain is now a museum that includes historic buildings, beautiful gardens, animals such as goats or chickens wandering around everywhere on the 167-acre estate.

What can you expect when you visit?

Burritt parlor with the swiss made music box
The Swiss Made music box is that impressive wood cabinet on the left

We started in Dr. Burritt’s Mansion from 1938 and were charmed by our storyteller host: Mr. Russ. My favorite piece? The Swiss Made music box that he actually played for us. It had 6 rolls with it and each roll would play 5-6 songs. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful that song was.

We would learn that Burritt’s third wife hated him for simple things like having a cold water-only shower in the basement of the home, down a dark flight of narrow stairs, and that she was probably freezing as he never turned the heat on.

Although, with a fireplace in every room – I can understand that. Just check out this 1890s fireplace mantle in the dining room!

Check out this historic fireplace
This is just one of the many fireplaces at Burritt Mansion – the 1890s fireplace mantle

Step outside of the mansion and you will see and learn a ton more as you traverse this historic park.

One of my favorite parts of the museum is the historic buildings. There are several different buildings to explore, each with its own unique history. My personal favorite is the Grist Mill, which was once used to grind corn into flour. It’s amazing to think about how this mill operated all those years ago!

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to walk, the gardens at Burritt on the Mountain are definitely worth checking out. There are several different gardens to explore, each with its own unique plants and flowers. The garden paths are also perfect for a peaceful afternoon stroll, which I enjoyed as the rain tried to crash my living museum party.

From learning about history in an old schoolhouse to the barnyard animals around small log cabins, you can’t help but think of what a great place this would be for all those school field trips. It really is an educational facility disguised as historical entertainment. Isn’t that what Huntsville’s first museum should be about?

Storyteller in the cabins
She was telling us a little history as she was creating lace by tatting with a hook

Burritt on the Mountain Events

  • Burritt on the Mountain Christmas – Can you imagine the smells of a traditional Christmas from a 19th century farm? Kris Kringle himself would consider this the perfect backdrop for that family experience for the holiday season.
  • Burritt on the Mountain Camp – I can only think of how much fun kids would have doing anything from feeding chickens to making butter!
  • Burritt on the Mountain City Lights Concerts – for 29 years they have offered seven seasonal concerts that offer a great time on a picnic blanket as you munch offerings from a local food truck.
  • Fire on the Mountain – I love the idea of a day of learning how fires were so necessary back then from the cooking to the actual blacksmithing! It is one day a year to learn from the Masters on this.
  • Burritt on the Mountain Folk School – Adults only here, but you can learn more about jam making, gems to make as a Blacksmith, music, woodworking, and even paper crafts. Let’s face it – back then, you had to do it yourself as there was no corner store to hit up or local Walmart! Just imaging learning the trick to creating the sounds of traditional music.
  • Burritt on the Mountain Weddings – I can just imagine having my daughter’s big day with a delightful mixture of historic ambiance blended with the most picturesque wedding ceremony for a wedding day to treasure. OK, I know she is only 15, but a mom can never start planning too early…

Burritt on the Mountain Admission

There is so much to do at Burritt, you will definitely need more than one visit! Admission is only $12 for adults and $10 for seniors (ages 60+), which is a bargain when you consider everything that is included. Children and students are only $8 while children ages two and under are FREE.

Burritt on the Mountain Membership

burritt cabin
So much history here 0 down to what could be considered a slave cabin or sharecropper cabin

Membership always has privileges! They offer a basic $30 for one person, to an $85 family option. This includes free admission for one year (along with many other perks like discounts and advance notice of special events).

Memberships like this often pay for themselves after 2-3 visits at the normal admission price. With all the special events, and then seasonal offerings? I would definitely see this as a place you can visit over and over again!

Check out the Gift Shop:

Burritt gift shop
I love perusing the gift shops at museums – you never know what you are going to find!

When talking about nonprofits, this is one simple way you can support them. Check out their gift shop and see if there isn’t something that you could bring back home for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do with your family, Burritt on the Mountain is a great option. There is something for everyone at this museum, so be sure to check it out!

Burritt on the Mountain Address:

Burritt on the Mountain can be found at 3101 Burritt Drive SE, Huntsville AL 35801

Other places we checked out in Huntsville Alabama:

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