Attraction PRO-Tips Series: Each month, we bring you our tips for visitors for navigating and exploring Huntsville/Madison County attractions.
By Rebecca Hitt
As I walk towards the doorway, I stop and close my eyes, soaking in all around me. I can feel the warmth of the sunlight kiss the skin across my nose. The house contains a deep, solid smell of wood that emanates from the walls. Tendrils of smoke from the nearby hearth bring hints and promises of stews and dinners waiting to be enjoyed. In the distance, a cow lows as the other farm animals shuffle and jostle about inside the barn. Behind me, the floor of the log cabin creaks, and I hear a man quietly ask me, “Is this your first time to visit the Burritt Museum?”
I absolutely adore places that let me literally step into another world. Burritt on the Mountain most definitely allows visitors the chance to do just that. Nicknamed the “Jewel on the Mountain,” Burritt is divided into roughly two main sections. The home of Dr. William Burritt, who willed his house and the surrounding 167 acres to the City of Huntsville in 1955 to be used as a city museum, is the showcase exhibit. The other side of the complex is a historic park featuring six 19th century restored buildings, detailing rural farm life in Huntsville from roughly 1800 to 1900. (and bonus: The barns have farm animals!!) There are also nature trails and concerts, workshops and dinners… So how does one take full advantage of all of these Burritt experiences?
Do the activities. Whether they are for children or adults. Do them.
There is no better way to completely embrace and step into the past. Burritt’s current activity is “Time Travel Adventure, (through September 2015) with signs outside each of the historic buildings that list fun facts and offer suggested activities like “Race the paddleboats and rafts down the model of the Alabama River,” and “Use the tools provided to work in the small garden.”
Take the audio tour of Burritt’s fascinating X-shaped home. Burritt workers list the audio tour as one of the things that visitors most miss out on. Besides learning about Dr. Burritt (an absolutely fascinating man, let me tell you!), you will also pick up a good deal about Huntsville’s history as well. Be careful-- it’s so easy for a visitor to quickly walk through the house and the rest of the buildings, only seeing surface deep interesting “stuff.” (Although yeah, there are plenty of interesting things to be seen!)
Doing the activities allows you to understand, absorb, and enjoy the whole museum more thoroughly and holistically. Which Dr. Burritt would definitely approve of.
Watch the calendar!
Burritt’s calendar of events is bursting with entertainment and events! With Baskets Full of Fun Easter Jubilee, Spring Farm Days, summer concerts, Christmas candlelight events, and more, it’s definitely worth it to see if there is something coming up while you are in town (or if you see something that makes you realize you DEFINITELY need to plan a return trip to Huntsville!)
Talk to the people!
Seriously, you need to talk to people who labor to make Burritt such an amazing experience. A good many of them are volunteers. Meaning these people choose to spend their free time at the museum out of their abundant love for Burritt on the Mountain and for Huntsville. And they have wonderful stories of their own to add.
I had the pleasure of talking with Mrs. Gardner who has been volunteering at Burritt for the past 20 years. She lived next to the Monte Sano Hotel when she was little and told us a story of her older brother and his friend sneaking into the Hotel when they were little. Her mother played songs for Dr. Burritt on the grand piano that is now on display in the parlor. The employees and volunteers are the ones who really put the life into the museum.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out and explore Burritt on the Mountain like a pro!