Mount Vernon Things to Do

  • Mount Vernon Mansion
    Mount Vernon Mansion
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  • Lower Garden
    Lower Garden
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  • Potomac River from behind Mansion
    Potomac River from behind Mansion
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Most Recent Things to Do in Mount Vernon

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    The Old Vault

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    "The family vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger sclae, may be built at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure..." The Last Will and testament of George Wahington, July 1799.

    George and Martha Washinton along with twenty other family members were orginally interred in the old vault. In accordance with his will, Washington directed the building of a new tomb. The Washingtons were removed to the New Tomb in 1831.

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    The Shoemaker's Shop

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    Mount Vernon's shemakers were kep busy making and repairing shoes for the nearly 100 adults slaves who labored on George Washinton's farms. Every field hand received on pair of shoes each fall. In 1799, the enslalved shoemaker was William "Billy" Lee, the personal attendant who accompanied Washington during the Revolutionary War. Lee learned the trade of shoemaking after seriously injuring both knees. He and several assistants also fixed saddles and the Washington family's shoes. They did not make shoes for the Washington's who ordered finer footwear from local merchants or London manufactureers.

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    Storehouse

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    "When Reuben finishes the work he is now engaged in, have his trowel taken from him and put into the store." George Washington to manager Anthony Whiting, June 2, 1793

    Within sight of the mansion, the storehouse was under the watchful eye of George Washington and his manager. From here, valuable supplies were dispersed: blankets, clothes, and tools to the slaves; nails and copper to the carpenters; leather and thread to the shoemaker; power and shot to the huntsmen. The items stored here - more than 500 were listed in the inventory taken at Washington's death - were kept under lock and key. They registered in a ledger, as was each distribution, so Washington could track the use of his goods.

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    Clerk's Quarters

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    "To copy and record letters and other papers, to keep books....and an account of articles received from and delivered to the farms...would constitute your principal employment." George Washington to Albin Rawlins, February 12, 1798.

    After his retirement from the presidency, George Washinton hired Albin Rawlins to perform clerical duties and act as his business agent, especially when travel was required. Rawlins, a bachelor, found this room and the loft above to be sufficient living space. The quarters were convenient to the Mansion study, from which Washington could quickly summon his clerk, and the Mansion cellar where the white servants' dining room was located.

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    Riding Chair

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    As a young man, George Washington acquired a riding chair similar to the 18th century example you see here (alongside a modern reproduction). Popular in America and England, riding chairs could travel country lanes and back roads more easily than bulkier four-wheeled chariots and coaches. Riding chairs were relatively inexpensive in comparison with other wheeled vehicles, and the form was used by members of all social classes as an easy way to travel the rough Virginia terrian.

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    Smokehouse

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    A large supply of meat was neccessary to feed the Washington family, their many quests, and the large number of slaves and servants at Mount Vernon. Small animals such as fowls and fish could be eaten before they spoiled, but larger animals, including hogs and cows, had to be preserved to last through the winter months. After slaves salted or pickled the meat, they hung it on the rails inside the smokehouse above a smoldering fire set into the pit in the center of the building. For long term storage after smoking, the meats remained hanging or were packed in barrels filled with ashes.

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    Washington's Vehicles

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    George Washington had several horse-drawn vehicles. Slaves, including Joe, a driver, and Jack, a wagoner, took care of the Mount Vernon vehicles. Travel during the 18th century was difficult. Poorly maintained roads meant that even short journeys were hazardous and that vehicles wore out quickly. Coach houses accommodated the variety of vehicles which Washington used for travel, including a small coach similar to the one you see here. Both this example and Washinton's coach were made by well-known Philadelphia carriage makers David and Francis Clark.

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    Garner's House

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    “I want a Man that will labour hard, knowing at the same time how to keep a Garden in good Order and Sow Seed in their proper Seasons in ground that he has prepared well….”~George Washington’s specifications for a gardener, November 22, 1771

    This building first served as a slave hospital, then as a space for spinning wool, and finally as living quarters. Williams Spence, a young bachelor from Scotland, served as gardeners at Mansion House Farm in 1799 and likely resided in this building. George Washington hired gardeners that had been trained in Europe and were skilled in cultivating the wide varieties of plants and seeds that he received from around the world. With the assistance of two or three enslaved gardeners, Spence oversaw the care of the upper a d lower gardens as well as the orchards and greenhouse.

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    Spinning Room

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:
    "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 to manager Lunc Washington, August 20, 1775.

    Textile production was vital to achieving self-sufficiency 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. While slaves and hired weavers were able to produce basic textiles for plantation use, it was still neccessary to import finer material from England for the Washington's table and clothing.

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    Blacksmiths

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 30, 2011

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    Mount Vernon was a working farm with lots of outbuildings. One of those buildings of course was the blacksmith shop. You cannot run a working farm without one. The young gentleman was displaying all the skills required of a blacksmith.

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    Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 30, 2011

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    The educstion centers starts with the wonderful exhibit of the Reconstructing of George Washington is so interesting. Then the other exhibits are just as wonderful, to the young Virginia, Surveyor, Colonial Officer, and to the gentlemen Planter. There is another wonderful film in the 40 Year Romance Theater that shares the story of the 40 year romance George had with Martha. A very touching film. The museum is separate, but just as lovely.

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    Ford Orientation Center

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 30, 2011

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    Your visit to Mount Vernon begins by passing through the orientation center with a wonderful map in 11 languages, restrooms, Bronze Washington Family Statues, the General Store, beautiful glass stained window, and two theaters are Smith & Eagles theaters that have a wonderful 18 Minute movie "We Fight to Be Free". You have to make time for it. Plus a really neat Model of Mount Vernon on display. And from here out to the historic area.

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    Washington's Grist Mill

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jul 16, 2009

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    George Washington's Gristmill and Distillery are located about three miles west of Mount Vernon on Route 235. They were part of the original estate, with the gristmill constructed in 1771 and the distillery established in 1797. The gristmill ground wheat into flour, and it is said the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year, making it the largest distillery in America at the time. The distillery was destroyed around 1814 and the mill was demolished in the 1850s. The mill was rebuilt in 1933 and the distillery reconstructed in 2007. Open to the public from April through October.

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    Potomac River & Mount Vernon Pier

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jun 30, 2009

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    The pier along the Potomac River at Mount Vernon is accesses by the Potomac Riverboat Company and Spirit Cruises which have cruises from Washington, DC; Alexandria, VA; and National Harbor, MD to the Washington estate. The cruises are kind of expensive, at around $50 per person, but the fee includes admission to Mount Vernon, normally $15 a person.


    The Potomac River runs 383 miles from the West Virginia-Maryland border to the Chesapeake Bay south of Washington DC. Some of the major cities along the river include Harper's Ferry, WV, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and West Virginia and Virginia to the south. At the mouth of the Potomac, the river is 11 miles wide, between Point Lookout, Maryland and Smith Point, Virginia.

    Numerous famous Americans were born and lived along the Potomac. Two of the most famous are George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Of course, every President and Congressman has also resided along the river while serving in Washington DC!

    Various methods have been used to navigate the river. The Patowmack Canal was envisioned and partially funded by George Washington to connect the area Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785, its five short canals were not completed until 1802, and they ceased operations in 1830. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the opposite bank of the Potomac in Maryland from 1850 to 1924 and it also connected Cumberland to Washington, D.C.

    Today numerous parks line the Potomac. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park runs is 184.5 miles along the north side of the river. Also in Maryland, south of DC, you will find Oxon Hill Farm, Fort Foot National Park, Fort Washington Park, Piscataway National Park, and Point Lookout State Park. In Washington DC you will find Georgetown Waterfront Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park including Hains Point. In Virginia, you'll find Harpers Ferry National Park, Balls Bluff Battlefield, Great Falls Park, Jones Point Park, Fort Hunt National Park, Mount Vernon, Leesylvania State Park, and George Washington's Birthplace National Park.

    Alexandria & the Potomac

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    Pioneer Farm Site

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jun 22, 2009

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    At the bottom of a hill below the mansion and near the pier on the Potomac is a four acre area of land known at the Pioneer Farm Site. Here you will see farming technicques from George Washington's time, including his innovative 16 sided barn used to separate wheat from the straw using cattle. Other demonstrations also take place here such as traditional cooking methods.

    the colonial era farm 16 sided barn Bull at Mount Vernon

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