Visit the 19th Century

Tours

We offer free guided tours which focus on life at the Burwell School from 1837 - 1857, when it was the home of the large Burwell family, enslaved servants,  and the Burwells' landmark school for young ladies -- more than 200 girls over 20 years studied, played, ate and slept here.  This was also the home for seven difficult years of Elizabeth Hobbs,a Burwell family slave; later the Civil War refuge of the Collins family of Somerset Place plantation.

The tour brings history to life through the lives of the site’s varied 19th century residents – the diary entries and letters of Anna Burwell as she struggles to balance the pressures and demands of operating her school and the needs of her growing family, Elizabeth Hobbs chronicling her enslavement and longing for her home in Virginia, and letters of students who were sometimes happy and sometimes homesick.

The tour takes you room-by-room as you learn about the school, the household, and the students. Tours are offered free of charge, however, donations are appreciated. 

The site is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 - 4, and Sunday, 1 - 4.  Tours are held at 1 pm on Wednesday, Thurday and Friday, and anytime during open hours on Saturday (11 - 4) and Sunday (1 - 4).   

Tours are free but donations are welcome (suggested donation $5 - $10).                                                                           


Docent Carrie Currie

Mary and Emma helping with a busy event.

Our tour guides and volunteers look forward to your visit!
 

 

 

We also welcome you to enoy the site at your own pace and to see:

  •  The Burwell residence, circa 1821 and enlarged 1848;
  • The Carrie Waitt Spurgeon Garden;
  • The brick schoolroom building behind the main residence;
  • The fragrant and simple Musk Rose which was long associated with the Burwell family;
  • A hallway display interpreting the site’s Civil War history when the Burwell residence was home to approximately 40 members of the Collins household of Somerset Place.  It was so busy that the Burwell home became known as “the Beehive” during this time.  See period documents including recipes, home remedies, letters, and newspaper advertisements;
  • The computer kiosk in the South Parlor through which visitors can tour the research database on students of the Burwell School, a growing body of information on the girls whom Mrs. Burwell hoped would become "thorough scholars and useful members of society."  The database and the kiosk were supported by a grant from the Instutute for Museum and Library Services;
  • A videorecording of a segment fom UNC-TV's program, "Our State" featuring an award-winning feature on Elizabeth Keckly.
  • The restored brick "Necessary Building" at the back of the garden.

We also offer excellent educational programs for school groups  and Girl Scouts (to earn the Burwell School Girl Scout patch).  For information on these programs, click here.

               

 

 

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