Born in 1732 at Pope's Creek, Virginia, George Washington inherited the estate at Mount Vernon in 1761. Washington may have been commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (what in Australia we know as the American War of Independence), presided over the convention which drafted the Constitution of the United States and served two terms as the new country's first president, but it is Washington the farmer and family man whose spirit pervades the estate at Mount Vernon.
David and I braved wet and miserable weather to spend the day at Mount Vernon, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Washinton D.C. Our plan was to cycle from Alexandria via the Mount Vernon Trail which winds its way along the banks of the Potomac River, but we woke up to rain and 59 degrees F (15 degrees C), abandoned plan A and drove there instead. Just a note here - I have cheated on all the photos, having finally worked out how to photoshop blue into a grey-sky image.
The dreary weather failed to deter our fellow tourists. While the grounds of Mount Vernon are large enough to accommodate significant numbers of visitors, the queue to see inside the mansion snaked out the front door and part way down the long front driveway. The length of the wait was managed well with timed tickets, but once inside the house we had little chance to stop and soak up the atmosphere. Costumed guides stationed in each room gave a running commentary as we moved past them.
|Photography is not allowed inside the house but this model in the Visitor Centre gives you an idea of what we saw.|
|Looking toward the Potomac|
- We visited on a Saturday. We have been told that it is always busy but it would be worth trying to time your visit for mid-week when perhaps there might be fewer visitors.
- Don't miss the 25 minute introductory video in the Orientation Centre. Even if you think you know who George Washington was, the video gives you a sense of the man behind the historical figure.
The Outbuildings and Grounds -
Washington planned and designed additions and improvements to the house and grounds at Mount Vernon on a grand scale in a style to suit his status as a wealthy Virginian plantation owner. One of the features of the estate which we found especially interesting, was that many of the outbuildings are original. Seeing the kitchens, laundries, barns and other ancilliary structures gave us a sense of the inhabitants of the plantation beyond Washington and his immediate family. Watching and talking to costumed guides playing the roles of the plantation's workers re-enforced how lucky we all are to live in the modern world.
|Costumed guides at the Pioneer Farm|
|The Clerk's Quarters|
|The Blacksmith's Forge.|
My tip -
- Leave yourself plenty of time to explore the outbuildings and grounds.
- Don't miss the Pioneer Farm down on the bank of the Potomac near the wharf.
There are a number of specialty tours available at the estate. David and I chose to join the The Enslaved People of Mount Vernon tour, a 60 minute guided tour which provides an insight into the several hundred slaves who lived and worked at Mount Vernon.
My tip -
- Decide which specialty tours you want to do and purchase your tickets early. David and I almost missed out on the Enslave People Tour because we waited until we had seen the mansion before buying our tickets.
Opening Hours, Prices and Directions -
For Mount Vernon's opening hours, directions and other practical information click - here
For admission prices click - here.
This is the first post on our road and cycling trip in the north-east U.S.
For all my posts in this series click - here
My next post will be on the Colonial era Market Fair at Claude Moore Farm. Keep an eye out for it next Thursday/Friday.
Note: David and I received complimentary admission to Mount Vernon.