The Peter Burr House

The Peter Burr House The Peter Burr House is the oldest standing wood frame home in West Virginia. Reliving History, Inc helps maintain the house with Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission and uses it to educate the public on life in the 18th Century.

The Peter Burr House reflects the spirit of the early settlers. The old wood-frame, post and beam house (built under difficult circumstances at a time and place where ready-made building materials were not options) has had the tenacity to continue to stand when other wood-frame structures in the area fell years ago. This house quietly saw history passing by as it somehow survived in spite of all other odds. The Peter Burr House is one of very few surviving structures built slightly before or after 1750 in what is now Jefferson County, West Virginia. With the Peter Burr House, Reliving History, Inc. helps tell the story of typical settlers in a land amid fears of Indian invasions and absence of what we know today as modern convenience.

05/15/2019

Despite threatening skies, "Fantastic 18th C. Vegetables and Where to Find Them' was given very good attention by four young girls - and since the attendance was not greater than that, they got to abscond with all the tomato seedlings I had brought for the program and give them good homes.

Then the polite and attentive attendees were 'released' to play while I tackled a bit of the garden. For them, out came the 18th C. hoops & sticks and the damp ground was little impediment to running around and playing. They had a bit of a tour in the weed-clogged garden, and discovered a few 'dancing gourds' that I had missed collecting last season. I gave permission to keep them - and the 'Raiders of the Lost Gourds' hunt began! The girls found a shockingly large amount of them. (That plant really went crazy last year!) They kindly shared the 'loot' with me, so after I clean them up and decorate some, we'll have a number of dancing/spinning gourds available at the Peter Burr House.

05/07/2019

This coming Saturday, May 11, come to the Peter Burr House for "Fantastic 18th C. Vegetables and Where to Find Them", at 3pm. We'll look at the history of some common vegetables (and perhaps a look at a fruit or two) in the 18th C., and I will provide some sources where seeds may be found today. I will also have some little tomato plants (yes, tomato!) available, varieties that are believed to date from the 18th C. or earlier.

Afterwards, we will attempt to tackle the garden, if we are feeling adventurous, and perhaps transplant some borage, lavender, rosemary, leeks, onions... things the rampaging groundhogs won't eat.

And this just showed up in my own newsfeed. Not that I want to sabotage my own program(!), but this is the giant plant s...
04/23/2019

And this just showed up in my own newsfeed. Not that I want to sabotage my own program(!), but this is the giant plant sale I mentioned (and hey, planting good plants can help save the world)

Our 2019 Garden Fair vendor list is now online!
Is your favorite vendor on the list?

https://sites.google.com/view/gardenfairatblandy/vendor-list

04/23/2019

Our program for May 11 will be "Fantastic 18th C. Vegetables and Where to Find Them"

(Hehe, could not resist the allusion there). I have received word that the bread bakers will not be baking that day, but instead will start the next month, the second Saturday of June. However, I think we can have enough interest for this program to stand on its own. After the program, there will be a work day to clean up the garden (an excellent suggestion from Master Naturalists), which also means snacks of some sort will be provided by me. Some seedlings will also be available of some vegetable/potherb varieties.

The time is flexible. It is hard to guess what the weather would be like, but what do interested folks think about a program beginning, say 3pm, hopefully as the heat of the day begins to lessen?

If the weather is bad, the raindate will be Saturday, May 18. Truthfully, if May 11 is a bad day for this program (because you really want to go to the huge Mother's Day plant sale at Blandy Experimental Farm, for instance), we can plan this event for the 18th instead. Do let me know the best date and time for your interest in the comments below.

Last Saturday I began the task of cleaning up the Burr House after its winter rest. With the "great room" cleaned, duste...
04/18/2019

Last Saturday I began the task of cleaning up the Burr House after its winter rest. With the "great room" cleaned, dusted, swept, its windows washed, I think it is a good time to feature this room in part of a "Virtual House Tour" as has been requested of me.

So, here is what we call the "great room", the main living space of the Peter Burr House. This would be the room where the family did much of their daily work, schooling, eating, relaxing, etc. It features a large fieldstone fireplace and hearth, sensible in a place in the 18th C. where rocks are abundant and bricks are hard to come by. (Today, rocks are still abundant...)

Although this room seems small by modern standards, especially for the large family the Burrs would end up having, the dimensions are not atypical for ordinary 18th C. homes. However, this room was also designed for aesthetics, with pains taken to make it so. A chair rail surrounds the plaster walls, as in fine homes of the period. Especially telling are the exposed, painted beams, which have not only been planed fairly smooth, but also feature hand-worked 'beading'. A visitor to the house would immediately notice these evidences of good taste and 'refinement'. So while the Peter Burr house would not have the scale and elegance of homes fashioned for the Washington family (for instance), the worked architectural details of the house interior clearly mark the Burrs as the 'middling sort' - and perhaps, a 'middling sort' with aspirations to higher class than middling.

04/11/2019

Game Day on Saturday is postponed to a later date -- this is evidently one of those busy weekends for people! Stay tuned - we'll do this later this Spring. And more games and activities to come.

Perhaps it is just as well... I haven't gotten any response from Landmarks on whether or not we have water. Always a nice thing to have on hand. The Burrs, after all, probably chose this specific location because of the numerous springs on site.

And, coming up, the second Saturday in May should be the beginning of bread baking in the outdoor bake oven, and we will have an activity for that day - probably, as was suggested by several Master Naturalists, a program on heirloom 18th C. vegetables and their availability and use today. This program would be followed by a "work day" in the garden, and yes, it sure could use it! I started tackling the garden last week, so you can get in the garden gate at least. It is going to need a lot of work (as usual)...

I took a good look at the house and grounds of the Peter Burr house on Saturday, and I was glad to see that the water ar...
04/08/2019

I took a good look at the house and grounds of the Peter Burr house on Saturday, and I was glad to see that the water around the property had retreated significantly. There is still plenty of water in the ditch areas, and I wouldn't walk along the fence near the northern ditch to get to the utility building, but at least you can get to the house and around the fence without wearing muck boots!

I did discover some problems, which I will report to Landmarks, one of which you can see in the northern ditch here: there is a good deal of trash in the marsh areas, which is very distressing. I did not pick this up because I was alone and was concerned that if I fell in the ditch while trying to get the trash, I might be in trouble if I had difficulty getting out. Our historic sites should not be treated like this (or any other place either. Everyone should be considerate of the Earth. That's what I always taught my kids)

Presently, the utility building has not yet had its water turned on. I will remind Landmarks again, but just be aware that if we have a games playing day on Saturday, it might be without facilities. I'm still up for it, as long as I have at least a few people commit to it!

But I will have to clean up the house inside before Saturday. I have to wonder what life-&-death struggles were going on in there when I opened the parlor door and found baskets turned over and their contents spilled across the floor, my sweet little desk that I loaned the house showing significant chewing damage, and a large snakeskin lying across the floor. Yes, not exactly the welcome one would want for visitors...

I just received a query about the game 'Catchpenny' - yes, it is a game for all ages (not just older kids). Here is a ph...
03/28/2019

I just received a query about the game 'Catchpenny' - yes, it is a game for all ages (not just older kids). Here is a photo; the object of the game to become the King of all Beggars, Vagabonds, and Street Peddlers in 18th C. London (or Queen. In our house, usually Genevieve becoming the Queen of All Beggars, etc.)

The game is for 2-6 players; more than that, and we'll just have to play teams. It is a lot of fun - but don't take my word for it, come and play!

Such a lovely day in late March. The leeks & onions are hardening off in a cold frame at home - a lot of work needs to b...
03/28/2019

Such a lovely day in late March. The leeks & onions are hardening off in a cold frame at home - a lot of work needs to be done at the Peter Burr House garden before they can be transplanted. Finding time to get over there and do that - well, that's the tricky part.

But I need to do that soon, and assess the readiness of the property for the activities that Spring will bring! The entrance to the fence around the house is easier now that Landmarks has brought in some gravel to make a path, but I need to check on accessibility of the utility building. Already there are field trips and activities planned for early Spring:
Boardgame Fun: Catchpenny
Saturday 3pm - 5pm-ish - April 6? April 13? Those who are interested please help me pick a date. 'Catchpenny' is a modern game, based on Monopoly, but with a clever 18th C. twist. It's a lot of fun, and you learn about various 18th C. professions, challenges, and to use 18th C. (British) money.

April 22 Homeschool Group (Kristin Potts) 10am-noon [moderated by myself and Amy Mason with her delightful children]

May 10 Homeschool Group (Kate) 10am - focus: 18th C. clothing [me]

? May 11 - The first "second Saturday" for Bread making? If so, there will likely be some kind of activity. Stay tuned...

There was a request for a children's 'bread and butter' class here, but I had to take it off site because we have no modern stove or oven. (This can be seen as a gentle plea to Landmarks, yes!) Firing the bake oven would be too much for a small endeavor.

Untitled Album
03/28/2019

Untitled Album

There is snow on the ground today, and it is quite cold, but the brightness of the sun heralds the coming spring. And so...
03/06/2019

There is snow on the ground today, and it is quite cold, but the brightness of the sun heralds the coming spring. And so now it is time for the final verse of that lovely song "Drive the Cold Winter Away" (Singing):

"When white-bearded Frost hath threatened his worst,
And fallen from branch and briar,
Then time away calls from husbandry halls,
And from the good countryman’s fire,
Together to go to plough and to sow,
To get us both food and array,
And thus with content, the time we have spent
To drive the cold winter away."

I share a picture I took of a Nursery bed at Colonial Williamsburg last year - not what the garden looks at the Peter Burr House right now, not by a long shot! But here's to happy dreams of the future (after a lot of hard work)...

As the sleet pings off my house, the little onion and leek seedlings thrive snug in their box on the windowsill. And whi...
03/02/2019

As the sleet pings off my house, the little onion and leek seedlings thrive snug in their box on the windowsill. And while many of the plants I like to grow at the Peter Burr House I am not growing this year because of our groundhog issues, there are still likely options, some of which you can see here, in the first batch of seeds I purchased in January.

02/25/2019

I haven't had a chance to examine the garden after trying to protect the rosemary for winter (too late - it had perished), but I know there is a lot to do. It's a pretty scary tangled mess! I will try to get out there with clippers later this week.

Meanwhile, there are plans for the Peter Burr Kitchen Garden, House programs, and property. Some of the plans are modest, and some grand, overarching, and exciting! I'll start today with a modest one.

We have been having severe groundhog issues, so for this year, I am not going to plant the usual period peas, beans, carrots, etc. that I am so proud of, but focus on planting things the groundhogs (or 'whistlepigs') don't like. In early Spring, that starts with leeks and onions.

Right now, Giant Musselburg leeks and Red Wethersfield onions have germinated and are poking out of the soil in their windowsill boxes indoors at my house. Leeks in the 18th C. were not named, insofar as I can yet tell from my research, but Giant Musselburg is a named leek that dates from the 1830s, so very close to what 18th C. leeks would be (and possibly an 18th C. leek that was named later). Red Wethersfield has an even more interesting history. These onions become commercially available in Connecticut in the 1830s (unsurprisingly, in the town of Wethersfield) but they had to be around earlier than that as apparently Thomas Jefferson grew them in Monticello. They became immensely popular, and even used in the town itself as currency! I rather like that idea. Certainly, when you see this beautiful onion, you will understand the appeal.

Now at this point, the seedlings are doing well, and I think I have all the ones we can expect to plant. As leek and onion seeds do not store well from year to year, I offer the considerable remnants of my seed packets to anyone who is interested. They should be planted soon, as they take awhile to get going. So if you, gentle reader, are interested, just drop a note in the comments section and we'll arrange a pickup.

A fine adage to live by, I must say for myself! And speaking of sewing... it is time to assess what needs we have for 18...
01/09/2019

A fine adage to live by, I must say for myself! And speaking of sewing...

it is time to assess what needs we have for 18th C. garments for interpretation, particularly for our growing junior volunteers. These are the ones I know of offhand:
1. Xylon's gentleman's suit. I had to put off working on the waistcoat for work on Nutcracker and Christmas gifts, but it is time for me to resume again. (Just putting off all those dreaded buttonholes, I suppose)
2. Daisy needs a woman's gown. Daisy could wear Genevieve's jacket and petticoat, which is just fine for adult wear as well as for a pre-teen/young adolescent, but I thought it seemed to be getting rather small for her, and there are younger adolescents who fit it too. Besides, Daisy recently had a birthday -15! Time to celebrate with a new shift & gown ensemble - and stays too! Amy Mason, we will need to get together with you and Daisy (at my house) at some time soon for an initial fitting.

I've made some repairs for our existing garments, but if parents of young volunteers, ask your children if anything was tight or lacking, so I can sew accordingly this winter. I also want to ask for more volunteers - with some training sessions and probable clothing options - for the upcoming Crafts Festival at the Burr House at the end of April. But that would be best served by a separate announcement, coming soon...

Baker Creek is one of my main suppliers for 18th & 19th C. seeds we use in the Burr House garden. If you miss the promot...
01/04/2019

Baker Creek is one of my main suppliers for 18th & 19th C. seeds we use in the Burr House garden. If you miss the promotion today, their shipping is still reasonable. This year I have very modest expectations for the Burr House kitchen garden considering the groundhog(s) ate everything I planted last year with the exception of the squashes, so I am planning accordingly. Ready to get seeds!

Got seeds for your 2019 garden??? Now, you can shop with ease! We are offering FREE SHIPPING on all North American orders (U.S., Canada and Mexico) for 2019! Shop today!

01/03/2019

Happy New Year everyone! Time to start thinking about what exciting projects we can have at the Peter Burr House in 2019... hopefully the grounds will be drier for a larger part of the year, but we will go with what we have.

First activity in winter: non-period, casual, fun -- but educational too: an afternoon of playing the game 'Catchpenny'. This would be for older kids (and their adults). I had hoped to do this during Christmas break, but it is just too wet and squishy getting to the house right now. Once the grounds dry up a bit (or freeze solid) we can settle on a date. I'm thinking a Sunday afternoon so the dancers among our young interpreters won't have to miss the fun, or perhaps a day kids have off from school. We can work it out with an eye towards the weather.

Just to let you know, however, in the winter there are absolutely no amenities at the Peter Burr House: no lights, no heat, no water (and thus, no bathrooms. Yes, we have a chamber pot... but that is for observation rather than use!) We'll need to prepare accordingly. That being said, I've got a hotplate and there is electricity in the modern kitchen, so therefore hot chocolate will be served as we play!

12/18/2018

Oo is it wet over by the Peter Burr House! I didn't have my boots so I did not want to go squelching over to the garden. But with all this water filling the marsh area again, I hope to see the cattails come back and the abundance of red-wing blackbirds.

But as the season turns to winter, I think of one my favorite 18th C. songs - "Drive the Cold Winter Away". In the picture of the 17th C. ballad sheet I have, it says this is sung to the tune of "While Phoebus did rest". Not helpful to modern people, perhaps, but the words and tune are easily accessible nonetheless, and lovely they are. Here is the first verse:

All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all of the rest of the year;
And welcome the nights that double delightrs
As well for the poor as the peer.
Good fortune attend each merry man’s friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting all wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

Recently, The Jefferson County Museum made an extensive online catalog of their paper artifacts and photographs, and I a...
11/03/2018

Recently, The Jefferson County Museum made an extensive online catalog of their paper artifacts and photographs, and I am very happy to report that they have allowed me to share this treasure: An early 19th C. colored drawing of the Peter Burr House! This drawing was made by Patty Willis in 1827. I have not been able to find anything out about the artist (not surprising, unfortunately, given that women's lives have been traditionally mostly 'invisible'), but she did seem to have a granddaughter (or great-granddaughter) also named Patty Willis, born in 1879, who apparently followed in her footsteps, becoming a recognized artist in Jefferson County.

What makes this colored pencil drawing especially important is that it appears to be the earliest record we have of what the Peter Burr House looked like, a record within the first 100 years of the house's existence. Thank you, Jefferson County Museum, for allowing me to post this.

Address

176 E Burr Blvd
Kearneysville, WV
25430

General information

The Peter Burr House is open every second Saturday May- October for house tours and an 18th Century related event. We are also available by appointment for special events and tours. Please feel free to contact us and ask about our Traveling Show, a traveling trunk of 18th Century living, that can be used for Pre-K - High School.

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when The Peter Burr House posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Shortcuts

Category

Nearby museums


Other History Museums in Kearneysville

Show All