“After having the opportunity to view the collection on display at the Clarence Brown Conference Center in December 2015, I contacted the staff at the center, as well as the family, about the possibility of showcasing the collection at the Bartow …
“After having the opportunity to view the collection on display at the Clarence Brown Conference Center in December 2015, I contacted the staff at the center, as well as the family, about the possibility of showcasing the collection at the Bartow History Museum during the 2016 holiday season,” Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines said. “Because of the space we could offer and our convenient downtown location, it was decided that the museum provided an excellent venue for the collection. We then began talking to Mrs. Burnett’s daughters about the collection and the logistics of transporting the collection here and of setting it up.
“The collection contains over 200 pieces, including houses, businesses, churches, a depot, a courthouse, city and countryside establishments, and much more. Mrs. Burnett spent 30 years assembling her collection. Each holiday season she would lovingly put her Snow Village on display throughout her house, and then enjoy the reactions from friends and family that would visit her. In talking with her daughters, it is clear that this was a big part of who their mother was, and they are eager to continue their mother’s tradition of displaying the collection.”
He continued, “We hope our visitors will enjoy the collection and leave with holiday cheer. Those that have visited so far have enjoyed the size and uniqueness of the collection.”
A Collectible ChristmasOn display through Jan. 7, 2017, Burnett’s village is highlighted in the “A Collectible Christmas” featured exhibit at the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville.
“She loved Christmas,” said Burnett’s daughter, Tracy Earwood, who resides in Cartersville. “She loved people coming over. She loved decorating the house to the hilt. Every room had Christmas in it. ... She started [setting up her village] right after Halloween and it was in the Florida room [sunroom]. It took her approximately three weeks. She would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning [and] start [installing it]. Then daddy would get up [and] she would fix him breakfast, [then] she would go back. ... But she would work on it from 5 o’clock in the morning till bedtime.
“Then she’d take it down after New Year’s. She’d try to keep it up as long as she could. Her birthday was Feb. 16. So she’d try to keep it up after Valentine’s [Day]. ... [I enjoyed] having people come over, and they would just be in awe. [I loved] to see the little kids’ faces. ... Just to turn all the lights out [at night] in the Florida room and just watch the lights reflect off the windows, it was like a city within a city, and you were a part of it. ... It made you feel a part of the whole village.”
Prized buildingWhile Burnett acquired new pieces annually for her Snow Village, one of her prized buildings was her first purchase — Big Bill’s Service Station. Situated next to the sizable ice skating rink, the service station offers one of many slice-of-life scenes, with others ranging from a fireman rescuing a kitten from a leafless tree to children roasting marshmallows.
“My dad owned the Union 76 or Pure distributorship here in Cartersville, and he owned a truck stop in Adairsville,” Earwood said.
“So gas and fuel, that was daddy’s life. So when mama decided to start [collecting] — I think it was in ’86 or ’87 — my dad’s name was Bill, and the first building she got was Big Bill’s Service Station.
“... She didn’t buy anything else. Then the next year, that’s when she went full blown. ... [I just want people] to know where my mom’s heart was every year. ... I’m just glad Trey and the Bartow History Museum [have] volunteered to [carry on] that legacy.”
Knowing firsthand the joy the Snow Village delivers, Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau Deputy Director Regina Wheeler is pleased the collection is being publicly displayed again this year.
“We felt very honored that the Burnett family allowed us to display their mother’s vast Snow Village collection last year,” Wheeler said. “[Clarence Brown] Conference Center guests were delighted to see the unexpected display, and many recalled Christmases past and others returned to share the display with family and friends. We are very happy that even more people will be able to see the Burnett village this holiday season at the Bartow History Museum. It’s the ideal place to share traditions in every season.”
For more information about the exhibit or the Bartow History Museum, visit http://bartowhistorymuseum.org or call 770-387-2774.
Formed in 1987, the museum’s gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits have been housed in the 1869 Courthouse since December 2010. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits include “A Sense of Place,” “Bartow Beginnings,” “Community Champions,” “People at Work,” “The Coming War” and “Toward New Horizons.”
Serving as Bartow’s courthouse from 1869 to 1902, the museum’s two-story brick building was utilized for a variety of purposes in the 1900s, some of which included a roller skating rink, furniture store and warehouse. Sitting vacant since the 1980s, the structure was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1995 and renovated by Pennant Construction Management with $1.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.