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Dorothy Davidson Schoolhouse, Huntsville, AL



Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse at Burritt on the Mountain

3101 Burritt Drive SE

Huntsville, AL 35801

Burritt on the Mountain is an open-air museum in Huntsville, Alabama. The museum grounds on Round Top Mountain, a plateau connected to Monte Sano Mountain, were the estate of local physician William Burritt, who willed his house and land to the city for use as a museum upon his death in 1955. A number of 19th-century rural structures have been added to Burritt’s mansion, both in the interest of historical preservation and life re-enactment.  Major 19th century buildings in the historic park include the Balch House, originally built in 1887 near Harvest; the Chandler House, a dogtrot house from Lester in Limestone County; an 1884 church that originally stood in downtown Madison; the Meals House, an 1845 cabin from near Lester; the Smith-Williams House, an 1868 marriage of two 1840s structures originally from McKay Hollow at the foot of Monte Sano; and an 1890s barn from near Minor Hill, Tennessee.  The museum also features two buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Burritt Mansion, and the Joel Eddins House. Non-historic structures include a welcome center, administrative building, a replica of a four-room Rosenwald school, and an events center designed to look like the demolished Hotel Monte Sano.

Burritt on the Mountain opened a four-room schoolhouse replica as part of its educational experience. The school plan is based on that of the Rosenwald program, a massive building initiative in the early Twentieth Century to address an urgent need to provide schools for African-American students in the rural South.  Begun in 1912, Rosenwald schools were built through a partnership between Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and black educator Booker T. Washington, along with support from the local black and white communities. Between 1913 and 1932, nearly 5,000 new schools were built in 15 states and thousands of students received an education, learned trades and skills, and were awarded better opportunities as a result of this education.  During the school year, the building will be part of Burritt’s 4th grade experience with local school children spending a day of learning at the Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse. Each school day, two classes of 4th graders will experience an early 1900s school day from the morning pledge of allegiance to class dismissal after a day spent studying reading, writing and arithmetic. While not in use for students, the schoolhouse will be open to the community to view a Rosenwald exhibit and for hands on classes and workshops.

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