When you pay a visit to Mount Vernon, the first home of the first president of the U.S., you get a fascinating glimpse into life in the late 1700s. George Washington, the only U.S. president who didn’t live in the current White House, owned the house and sprawling farmland of Mount Vernon. It’s been restored as closely as possible to the time he lived here with his wife Martha. If you are in the Washington, DC area, this home is just across the Potomac River in the state of Virginia. It’s well worth your time for many reasons. With all the tours and exhibits available, you are sure to find something of interest.
The main attraction is the Mansion itself, which sits on a bluff above the river. You can relax on the porch and enjoy the view, just as Washington’s guests must have done.
If you’ve seen photos of Mount Vernon, you’ve probably seen the back of the Mansion. This is where horses and carriages arrived and would be where many guests were greeted. Washington was quite particular about the spacious lawn in the backyard. In his day, a lawn was a status symbol, as it wasn’t a cash crop but was solely for decoration. He was proud of this expanse of green.
We signed up for a tour on the enslaved people of Mount Vernon. This highlights the lives and contributions of the enslaved people who built and operated Mount Vernon. You will see a recreation of the slave quarters and the overseers house.
Our guide told us stories of the slaves that have been gleaned from white people’s journals and publications, as the slaves of course were not allowed to write. We heard these remembrances as we walked around the outbuildings near the Mansion.
After a delicious lunch at the restaurant next to the Visitor’s Center, we headed to the two museums. One is dedicated to the enslaved people of Mount Vernon. Only first names are known, so that is what you see inscribed on the glass doors.
You may wonder what happened to Mount Vernon when Washington died. He had no children of his own, but relatives took over the running of the farm. After a while, hard times hit and the Mansion fell into disrepair. Here’s a photo of the back of the house in the 1860s.
Fortunately, funds were raised to restore the house. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association took over then and still runs the property today. Restoration and archeology are ongoing. Plenty of opportunities are here to find out what it was like to live at Mount Vernon long ago.
Hours: Open 9:00 to 5:00 April through October; 9:00 to 4:00 the rest of the year.
Tickets: $20 for adults, $12 for children, under age 6 free. You can buy tickets online to insure you get a timed
entrance ticket to the Mansion on the day you plan to go.
Transportation: You can travel by boat or Metro. Take the Huntington Line Metro to the Huntington station, then take the connector bus for a 20-minute ride to Mount Vernon.
For more information on tours and the grounds and museums, visit the excellent Mount Vernon website.
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