Why Museum Visitors Will Love Historic Collinsville 

By Meghan E. Gattignolo 

Our Museum families are always looking for fun and educational places to enjoy an afternoon with their kids. Personally, I recently made a long-overdue trip over to Historic Collinsville with my own kids to find out how much fun a trip to southern Montgomery County can be. Here are a few things we enjoyed that are essential during a weekend trip to Historic Collinsville. 

Hands-On History 

When you check in and buy admission, you’ll be asked at the front desk whether or not you want to make butter. It’s a $1 add-on to your ticket, and a must for a complete Collinsville experience. Making butter is a simple activity that was often a child’s chore during the 19th century. While time-consuming, butter-making is easy to do. A few minutes spent making butter together, however, may make everyone appreciate the conveniences of the modern supermarket. While you sit and make butter together, it’s a great chance to chat and enjoy your surroundings – and pretend it’s 1823 instead of 2023!  

Courtesy of Visit Clarksville

Up-Close Native Species 

The third building on the Collinsville trail is the Irby-Bumpus Wildlife Center. Now, the animals here are no longer alive, but it is an impressive sight nonetheless. The center is inside a two-room cabin, originally used as a home for slaves. The walls of both rooms are fully loaded with taxidermy animals, most of which are native species. While seeing real animals is usually more exciting, taxidermy animals make it possible to get up much closer to them than if the animals were still living, allowing you to notice small details. Younger kids will get a kick out of how many animals they can name, and an interpreter is on-site to provide you with tons of fascinating facts.   

Courtesy of Visit Clarksville

Loom in Action 

If you are a repeat visitor to the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center, you are probably familiar with the Powers Log Home on the Museum’s Lower Level. Inside, it’s hard not to notice the giant loom in the corner, giving guests a glimpse of how people made their own clothes in pioneer times. If you have ever wondered how people worked a loom that size, don’t miss the Collinsville Wallace Loom House, where a woman in 19th century dress demonstrates the loom for you and answers your questions.  

Photo by Lucas Ryan Chambers
Courtesy of Visit Clarksville

Schoolhouse Fun 

The Wildwood Church and School is a sweet little one-room schoolhouse built in 1852 that doubled as a community church during its lifetime. Kids will have fun playing school, sitting on a hard wooden bench with their little tablet, Little House on the Prairie-style. One fun detail is that this school features a bit of downtown Clarksville history. The chalkboard on the wall was originally from the Howell School, which opened on Franklin Street in Clarksville in 1879, a public school facility used by the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System for decades. Despite attempts to preserve the original building, it was damaged by a tornado in 1999, and finally by fire later that same year. 

Photo by Terry Minton
Courtesy of Visit Clarksville

The Basics   

Historic Collinsville is located about 30 minutes away from downtown Clarksville within Montgomery County, in Southside, TN. The rural area lends an atmosphere near to what early Tennesseans would have experienced in their daily lives. A lot of walking is required, as the buildings of Collinsville are set along a trail on 40 acres of grounds. Allow for a couple hours to fully enjoy the settlement. A large picnic facility on the grounds is available, so feel free to pack a lunch. Historic Collinsville is open Thursday-Saturday 10am-4pm and Sundays 1pm-4pm during their open season, which runs from April 1 through November 19 in 2023.

Historic Collinsville often hosts special events and activities, so check their events calendar to help you get the most out of your next visit. Or scan this QR code to join their newsletter, so you never miss a thing!

Meghan E. Gattignolo is a freelance writer and longtime Clarksville, TN resident. She loves to obsess about historical subjects and annoy her family daily with unsolicited random facts. Meghan holds a History B.A. from Austin Peay State University and lives in town with her husband and two daughters. 

Back to Blog