We could only take photos in the outbuildings and not on the tour of the main house. But some of the outbuildings were really very interesting. There was a Stove Room which provided heat so that the palms, orange trees and other tropical plants needed to survive in the winter in Virginia. Hot air from the stove went through a series of flues into the greenhouse floor next door. Fuel was extensive quantities of wood. Keeping the fire burning day and night required a slave man or boy to sleep in the room from late fall to early spring.
Fondest memory: "Spinning should go forward with all possible dispatch, as we shall have nothing else to depend upon if these disputes [with England] continue (George Washington in August 1775)
George Washington practiced selective breeding of sheep to produce better quality wool, grew flax and hemp for making linen cloth and rope, and experimented with cultivating cotton and silk. It was still necessary to import finer materials from England.
Fondest memory: Mount Vernon is home to hogs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, horses, oxen, cattle, mules, and livestock as they were in Washington's day. Wild turkeys, deer and other wildlife are also seen on the plantation and along the Forest Trail. As I attempted to get a picture of this raucous bird, he startled me by clucking in my face. A kid on holiday said, "Let's have an early Thanksgiving." I was all for that. I could cook the turkey and make stuffing from my Grandma's recipe all ready to feed the whole tour group.
Favorite thing: One of my favourite things about Mount Vernon is the view of the Potomac River and the distant Maryland shore. Actually, the state line is at water's edge and that has been the source of centuries' long dispute between Virginia and Maryland. Near Mount Vernon on the other side of the river, helicopters (called Marine 1) which transport the president from the White House to Andrews AFB. The day Matt, Urszula, and I were there, one was flying over the river, but it went behind a cloud before I could snap it.
Fondest memory: I wish I could say it was the same bird and that we all had an early Thanksgiving feast instead of having to eat at that terrible food court. Actually, this turkey was hanging in one of the outbuildings nearest the house and I took it right after the mansion tour.
Mount Vernon, Virginia, speaking exactly, is not a city, not a town, not a village but so called census-designated place located in Fairfax County, Virginia. The CDP had a total population of 28,582 (2000). It is near the Mount Vernon plantation, the home of George Washington. Confused? Keep in mind that you are in the USA - a country of orderly chaos :-).
What is census-designated place?
It is an area identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical reporting. Mount Vernon has no separate municipal government, otherwise resembles incorporated place, such as city. The boundaries are defined in cooperation with local Alexandria officials, but are not fixed, may change from census to census and warning: not precisely correspond with local understanding of the area with the same name.
Conclusions for a visitor
1. The name of CDP, Mount Vernon, is not always easy to find on a map - some less detailed maps skip CDPs, but you always find Alexandria, Virginia seat of local power for Mount Vernon. And surely the Mount Vernon's main tourist attraction: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate should be always marked on your map in... Alexandria. The same concerns direction signs while you drive.
2. Whenever you look for an accommodation, bank, any company in Mount Vernon, look for it in Alexandria when the company pay taxes. CDP is created only for statistical purposes.
The area west of the current exit was fenced and under construction. I got to know that they started to build Visitors Center and service area for visitors there.
Well, it's the beginning of quite large investment in October 2004. Don't be surprised to see quite different and new exhibits, shops, restaurants in a year or rather more. Before, do expect some inconveniences like walkways temporarily closed for pedestrian traffic, maybe some noice as well.
There was the information table called Today At Mount Vernon, on my picture, put by the path leading from the entrance to the Washington's mansion. There are advertisements and time of various events which take place in the estate displayed on the table. On the day we visited the estate there were for example two kinds of 45-min. tours: "Gardens and Lanscapes" and "Slave Life at Mount Vernon".
Check current and ongoing events here.
Walk to the shops of Mount Vernon. They are located outside the estate, so no admission is necessary to shop! They are located near the main gate and entrance. Walk approx. 100 yards (meters) southwards along the fence of the estate, follow the signs on my picture.
There is charming, little Lady Washington Shop inside the historic area by the Upper Garden and Greenhouse available only for ticket holders.
Since you don't buy coffee or beer, you rent it, you should know where the restrooms (toilets/WC) are in large area of the estate.
- in the shops outside the estate,
- in museums (George Washington and Archeology & Restoration Museum) by the Upper Garden
- warning: the only restroom in lower part of the estate is located on Gradual Incline Trail, go upstairs from the middle of pioneer farmer site.
When you buy tickets to Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens you have a few more additional options: You may buy:
1. Admission to George Washington's Gristmill located 3 mles from the estate on SR-235 (closer to US-1). The ticket is cheaper when purchased with Estate admission (adults and seniors - $2.00, children 6 - 11 $1.50, 5 and under - free) than when purchased alone ($4.00; $2.00; free).
There is 18th century water-powered mill in operation run by costumed millers, hostorical interpreters.
2. Ticket for Potomac River Sightseeing Cruise which is available seasonaly: May - August: Tue - Sun; April and September: weekends. It costs additional $8.00 for adults and seniors (children 6-11: $4.00; 5 and under: free). It's 30 min. narrated excursion on Potomac boat starting from the wharf.
3. Mount Vernon Official Guidebook for $5.00 incl. tax.
4. 20-stop audio-tour of plantation life ($4.00 for rental).
Check the up-to-date options and prices here.
I didn't have enough time to visit 1, 2 was unavailable in October, I didn't need 4 as I bought 3: the guide was not 160 page as it stated written but 144. Never mind, the richly illustrated soft cover book gave me a lot of information both on the estate and on George Washington and his wife. It is worth the price - simply my recommendation.
Ticket office is (in October 2004) located in this small building, on my picture, by the main entrance. We had to wait a few minutes in short line on typical Friday before midday. Together with a ticket we gave a leaflet: Mount Vernon Visitor Map which was available in nine foreign languages:
GENERAL ADMISSIONS (October 2004)
Adults - $11.00
Senior Citizens, age 62 and above (with identification) - $10.50
Children ages 6 through 11 (accompanied by an adult) - $5.00
Children ages 5 and under (accompanied by an adult) – FREE
Annual Pass (unlimited daytime admission for one year) - $15.00.
Check up-to-date prices here.
That there were still trees growning that George Washington had actually planted!! It was awesome!! I have recently heard that they are going to clone those trees that Washington planted.
Also, that the woodwork inside of the house is so well preserved!!