As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
What’s the very first show that you can remember watching on television? For me, when I dig back into the recesses of my mind, my earliest television memory is of The Waltons. The show first aired in September of 1972; I was 2 1/2 years old. My little childhood mind thought of the Waltons as extended family. I mean, after all, they were right there in my living room every Thursday night.
As a mom, I wanted my children to enjoy this wholesome, family-oriented television show also. So, over time, we added all the seasons on DVD to our collection. My oldest daughter loved the show as much as I did! So, it was a natural fit for us to attend The Waltons 45th Anniversary event together. That event just so happened to be held at the Walton’s Mountain Museum in Schuyler, VA (about a 25-minute drive from Charlottesville). It was a neat event, but it was so busy and crowded and Ashley and I didn’t really have time to browse the museum exhibits while there. We have said ever since that we’d like to go back.
A recent trip to Williamsburg, VA afforded us the opportunity to take a little detour on the way and spend some time in Schuyler.
Visiting The Walton’s Mountain Museum
The museum is located in the former Schuyler High School building. Earl Hamner (founder of The Waltons) attended this school, along with his many siblings. The Walton’s Mountain Museum opened in 1992 and is currently open daily from March through November from 10 am – 4 pm (closed on holidays).
Admission fee is $8 for children aged 6 and up and adults.
Displays at The Walton’s Mountain Museum
During the anniversary event, we spent most of our time in what was the school’s auditorium. The classrooms house the individual exhibits. We started on the right side of the building and worked counter-clockwise through them.
John Boy’s Bedroom
Sitting at his desk, overlooking the front yard, John Boy Walton wrote his stories. Earl Hamner, the inspiration for John Boy’s character, did the same thing; and his stories later inspired the show. So, John Boy’s room is really where the show all started! It seemed appropriate to begin our tour there.
The museum exhibit wasn’t a perfect representation of John Boy’s bedroom on the show. In fact, it’s backwards! And, my kids were quick to point out that John Boy wouldn’t have had the luxury of an air conditioner in the window! But, I’m sure summertime museum visitors are really glad it’s there! The furniture, bedding, etc. are very authentic to the time. And the details were interesting – right down to the Boatright pennant on the wall behind the bed.
The hallway leading back to John Boy’s bedroom is filled with framed pictures, newspaper and magazine articles about the show, and lots of Waltons memorabilia. I’m sure that I had that game at one point and we had the record as well (I remember always wondering about that piece of fruit to the left of the center – it’s the shape of a watermelon but looks like a cantaloupe. That always confused me as a kid and was the first thing on the picture that popped out to me as an adult!) I was a paper doll fiend as a kid, so when I saw these paper dolls I got a little giddy. I didn’t have them, but I wish I did!
The Ike’s Store exhibit is also a working gift shop. I realized later that I didn’t take many pictures because I was so busy looking around! There was so much to see. It’s a great combination of period exhibits mixed with goodies that you can purchase as souvenirs.
The Living Room
Again, this isn’t an exact replica of the set. The living room on set was much larger. But the items in this replica are true period style. And remember the radio that the family would gather around and listen to?
To me, this room was the closest representation of the show set. In fact, when Ashley and I were visiting for the reunion event, we were all funneled through the kitchen where Michael Learned (Olivia) and other members of the cast served us samples of one of Mama’s recipes from the show. Seeing the cast there made this room seem pretty authentic!
Waltons Set Models
This room contained lots of memorabilia, such as models of the various sets that people have designed. And wow! They were SO authentic and well done!
This room also contained a couple different versions of Waltons dollhouses that were available to buy in the 70’s. Man, it’s a good thing I didn’t know these existed or I’d have been begging for one of them!
The Baldwin Ladies & “The Recipe”
Back in the early 80’s, I had opportunity to visit Walton’s Mountain (Schuyler, VA) on a bus trip (full of senior citizens!) One of things about that trip that has stuck in my mind all this time was when our tour guide told us about the inspiration for the Baldwin Sisters on the show. He pointed out a lane and said the ladies who inspired the story lived back there (we couldn’t see the house). And he told us that they were actually a mother and daughter but, to the children, they both seemed so old that they appeared more like sisters.
I was so excited to see this exhibit and see that my memory served me well over the years!
The auditorium walls are filled with pictures and articles, etc. One section I particularly enjoy is the wall that compares the Hamner children to the Walton children that were based on their characters. There’s another section that contains a Waltons A-Z quiz that showcases some more obscure characters on the show.
Across the room, there are pictures of graduating classes from Schuyler High School (including Earl Hamner’s graduating class), along with many other memories of the school itself.
Lastly, there’s a whole room dedicated to the military and serving as a mini military museum. And there’s a 30-minute video that runs on a loop (we didn’t take the time to watch this).
Our Thoughts on the Walton’s Mountain Museum
I was so glad that we had an opportunity to go back and visit this area again! I wasn’t sure if the rest of the family would want to visit the museum or wait in the car. My daughter Gracie wasn’t feeling well, so she did opt to remain outside and rest, but Brian and Ian decided to join Ashley and me for a trip through the museum and I think they enjoyed it every bit as much as we did.
After visiting the museum, I’m feeling even more connected to the show and ready to dig out our DVD’s for another round through the series!
If you’re a fan of The Waltons and plan to be in the Charlottesville, VA area anytime soon, I’d definitely recommend a visit – it’s just a short drive through the backcountry of Virginia and you’ll definitely feel like you are stepping back in time!