George Washington Mural - Alexandria
The George Washington Mural is tucked in where few tourists will ever see it, but where locals enjoy it daily. Where is this wonderful mural that stretches 1,200 feet (yes, almost a quarter mile), stands 10 feet tall, and depicts 13 of the most significant scenes from the life of our first President? It is along the Mount Vernon Trail, in one of the most rarely traveled sections behind the Alexandria power plant.
The mural starts with Washington's boyhood home at Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg (but not his birth home...?), then continues to show scenes of his life as a surveyor, British soldier, Revolutionary General, and his life as the President. The figures in the foreground of the painting are full sized, amazing for a mural of this length. At the northern-most section of the mural are paintings of various objects related to Washington such as the $1 bill, the quarter, and stamps for example.
The mural was just completed in May 2009 after years of work. Before the mural was finished, this was a plain old chain link fence barely hiding the coal yard for the power plant.
Belvior Mansion & Gravesite, Fort Belvoir
After George Washington moved to Mount Vernon, his closest neighbor, both in distance and friendship, was Colonel William Fairfax, who built and resided at Belvoir Plantation on a bluff overlooking the Potomac. William Fairfax was the grandson of the 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and his bother Thomas was the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
William Fairfax first lived in the Colonies in Marblehead, Massachusetts, but he moved to Virginia in the 1730s to oversee his bother Thomas' vast quantities of land. In 1741 William Fairfax construct Belvoir Plantation, an elegant mansion with splendid views of the River and into Maryland. William Fairfax had a tremendous political career, serving in such positions as President of the Governor's Council in Williamsburg, member of the House of Burgesses, Justice of the County Court, and as County Lieutenant.
William's bother, Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, lived at Belvoir for a few years before he moved to the Winchester, Virginia area. He was the first member of British nobility to live in America, and he employed George Washington as a surveyor of his lands.
During the American Revolution the mansion was confiscated by the fledgling American government. In 1783, fire destroyed much of the mansion and its surrounding buildings. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion ruins were further damaged when bombarded by the British fleet that was part of the force that captured Washington DC. Finally in 1917 the ruins of the house and the surrounding lands were acquired by Virginia and ceded to the US Army, forming today's Fort Belvoir. The obelisk monument at the family grave site was constructed in the 1920s as well. In 1931 the fort's commanding officer began the first archeological dig at the old house. In the 1970s a three-year archeological dig culminated in the site being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The Belvoir Mansion site is located at a very poorly marked site on Fort Belvoir, Virginia. From the main gate, take Belvoir Road several miles to its end and turn right on Fairfax Drive. Where Fairfax Drive meets Forney Loop, there is a small parking area that sits at the trailhead for the mansion trail. The trail is well-marked with many interpretive signs. The total distance from the parking lot to the grave site is only about a quarter mile, and the house is located at the halfway point wjust above the river.
After we left Mount Vernon and...
After we left Mount Vernon and headed east we decided to stop at Old Towne Alexandria. It was a treat, especially at night, as they have white lights in all the trees along the street. There are many unique little shops and resturants. I highly recommmed a side trip to this quaint little town.