Friday Field Trip: American Village

Last week (or was it the week before that?) the littles and I took a field trip. You know I love a good field trip, and my girls do, too. We have been studying early American history, encompassing the American Revolution, the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the election of George Washington as America’s first president. We have a truly fantastic field trip destination very close to our home that correlates perfectly with our studies. American Village was opened to the public in 1999, and I dare say it is one of the best representations of early American life that can be found outside of Washington, DC. And it is just outside of Birmingham in the quaint college town of Montevallo, Alabama.
They have a life-size (I don’t know if it’s full-size) representation of George Washington’s house, Mount Vernon. It is absolutely gorgeous! I could move in today – except for the fact that it’s only three rooms.
This beautiful room, flooded with light, is a replica of the room in which the Continental Congress was held. The Rising Sun chair that Patterson is sitting in is a replica of the chair that George Washington sat in when he presided over the meetings. I adore, ADORE!, the beautiful colonial colors used in this room and the clean lines of the early American style furnishings.  The prints on the wall are of John Trumbull’s paintings. The one you see here is Declaration of Independence, which we were so very fortunate to see here.
The gardens are lovely and full of color.
There is plenty of room for two little girls to run and play.
I have actually driven by the grounds of American Village thousands of times. Although American Village was built in 1999, when I was a little girl it was a bull farm. We passed by it every time we went to church. There was nothing there but a beautiful red barn in a serene setting. The land was so beautiful that I always wanted to live there when I grew up. The barn is still there, though it is a little more aged now. Much like me.

One of the first buildings completed was this lovely chapel. They use it for re-enactments of various famous speeches. Last time we were here, we heard Patrick Henry deliver his “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” speech. And, of course, to pay the bills, they also use it for weddings and other gatherings.
This is the speaker’s box where “Patrick Henry” stands to deliver his speech. It’s very effective!
I love this bald eagle lectern. I’m sort of considering getting one for our school room. I’d love to stand behind it to teach grammar. I think my students would listen better with a gold bald eagle staring them down. What do you think?

Southern Living built this house several years ago as a replica of the house George Washington and John Adams lived in before construction was complete on the White House. It was built to look like a historical home, but on the inside it shows how you can marry more modern furnishings with the colonial look of the outside. When it was first built you could tour it, but I don’t think they allow visitors anymore. I wish I could share the decor on the inside with you. It was FANTASTIC. Southern Living designers decorated it, and they did some really cool things with it. The kids’ den with built-in bunk beds was my favorite!
They have a full-size replica of the Liberty Bell, along with a historical marker telling about events for which the original bell was rung and how it cracked.
As I mentioned, they have opened the venue to public events in order to help raise funds to add on to the facility. When a wedding is held in the chapel, the reception can be held in Liberty Hall, a lovely ballroom facility. The interior is lovely, and in keeping with the rest of the property.
Of course, they have an actual-size replica of the Oval Office. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the entire Village. It is decorated with personal effects from many presidencies. The famous Resolute Desk, used by many presidents, but originally given to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria. It was made with timbers from the British Arctic Exploration ship Resolute.It was originally open in the front, but modified when used by President Franklin Roosevelt to hide is leg braces. Sadly, President Roosevelt died before the front panel was finished, but President Harry Truman had it installed anyway to honor the late president.
The presidential seal on the rug in the Oval Office.
Several presidents have displayed this Frederic Remington sculpture called Broncho Buster. It was a gift from the artist to President Teddy Roosevelt.
The famous statement made by President Harry Truman. The other side says “I’m from Missouri.”
It is customary for an outgoing president to leave a note on the desk for the incoming president on Inauguration Day. This is the note left by President Ronald Reagan for President George H. W. Bush.
I loved this photo of the five living presidents. It is, indeed, an elite club. There are so very few men who truly understand the demands of the office, and I’m sure these men have a bond that most people can’t grasp.
President Reagan’s famous jar of jelly beans. Look how badly my baby wants a bite. She totally didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her eat them.
Just so I don’t get an angry calls from grandparents – I gave her some other candy! She is not deprived! 🙂
If you have stayed until the end of this post, you are a real trooper. It has taken me a week to write and download pictures, so it might take you a week to read it all.
If you ever have the chance to visit American Village, be sure to call ahead and get on a tour so that you get to see the actors doing their thing. It adds a whole different element to your visit that you don’t want to miss. Alabama is so very fortunate to have such a fantastic historical park in our state. Please support it so that it can be expanded. We need it!!


  1. This was interesting. I have been to Mount Vernon a few times… would love to check this place out. Loved the post.


  1. […] historical site is just a short drive south of Birmingham to the quaint little town of Montevallo. I’ve written about American Village before, so I won’t cover it again. But suffice it to say that it is a fun, educational […]

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