Thursday, 2 June 2016

Mount Vernon - George Washington's home.

Mount Vernon Washington DC
More than any other figure in American history, George Washington defined the U.S.  He is revered as a soldier, patriot and president  - he was also a farmer, husband, step-father (to Martha's two children) and slave owner.

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.

Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon 


The Mansion -


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.

Mount Vernon looking to the Potomac
Looking toward the Potomac


My tips:

  • 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.


River Farm at Mount Vernon
Costumed guides at the Pioneer Farm
Clerk's Quarters at Mount Vernon
The Clerk's Quarters
Blacksmith's Forge at Mount Vernon
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. 

Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon
Slave Quarters

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.

21 comments:

  1. No need to confess about editing your lovely images Lyn. Really great compositions and I especially like the arch way and pillar shot. I think having the costumed guides at Mt Vernon would really add to the authenticity of the experience. Great review and i especially like the tips about when to go. always helpful for any visitor that's for sure.

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    1. Thank you Sue for your kind comments. David and I love historical re-enactments so the costumed guides were a highlight. We went to a period dress-up Market Fair the day after Mount Vernon which was loads of fun.

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  2. I've been to Mt Vernon before and I think your pictures are great. I agree to leave plenty of time to visit the out buildings and don't miss the pioneer farm.

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    1. Hi Rhonda. Thanks - coming from a photographer of your standard that is real praise.

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  3. I love a good historic house - and this one looks fabulous, particularly as it has the George Washington connection. It's great to see it so well preserved :)

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    1. America has many, many grand houses and because of the historical connection this was one of the best.

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  4. My (American) husband is a bit of a history buff yet he's never visited Mount Vernon. Go figure. We'll be putting this on our U.S. road trip itinerary and now, with your helpful tips, we'll be set to explore well! Thanks for that!

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    1. I think it is a place every American should visit at least once. Even for non-Americans like us it is a fascinating place.

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  5. Enjoyed the tour of Mount Vernon through your eyes, Lyn. Look forward to your next post from Claude Moore farm. #WeekendWanderlust

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    1. Many thanks. We had a ball at Claude Moore. I have already written the post but won't put it up until next week.

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  6. Mount Vernon is a great historic place. I loved exploring it so much that I go there almost every time I am in DC. The estate is very big and the grounds had some domestic animals around when we went there one time. There was a black sow and 8 little piglets that were adorable! Thank you for joining me for #TheWeeklyPostcard, Lyn.

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    1. We saw the animals too - pigs and sheep. David got into a serious discussion about sheep breeds with one of the workers. He thinks because he is Australian he knows about sheep - lol.

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  7. We loved our visit to Mt. Vernon, definitely can't stress enough how much time you need for touring the grounds. #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. Unfortunately it rained a fair bit the day we were there which made seeing the grounds a bit harder.

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  8. I wouldn't mind seeing this if I ever made it to Virginia! I'm such a history buff, I'd totally love this! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. The whole of the U.S is a history buff's dream destination -there are just so many historical sites.

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  9. i loved the gardens as Mt Vernon. And i always find it surprisingly how compact these old "mansions" are compared to the scale we build on today with more efficient heating, etc. It's also interesting how self-sufficient these farms were with their blacksmith, etc. like small villages, really. hope you get to Monticello too; it's interesting to compare Washington's style to Jefferson's.

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    1. We went to Monticello a few years ago so I know what you mean about the difference in style. Monticello is much more grand but then Jefferson died bankrupt and Washington died a wealthy man.

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  10. Your photography is so beautiful. The colors are so vivid. I REALLY love the dollhouse!!

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    1. Thank you. I did cheat on the photos a bit - lol!

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