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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Best Rated Things to Do in Mount Vernon

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    Forest Trail

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    If decide to hike up or down to the lower farm area, the trail has all kinds of educational plaques along the way. The trail is a little steep, but not bad.

    The plaques reads:

    A Forest Medicine Chest

    Trees, shrubs and herbs found in the forest provided medicine for 18th century households. Many of the treatments were developed by Native Americans and passed down to the colonists. The bark of witch hazel shrubs was blended in a poultice to reduce inflammation. Sassafras bark was used by both Native Americans and colonists to treat fevers and a variety of other ailments. Settlers turned to a perennial herb known as bloodroot to treat warts and skin cancers. Roots from the yellow dock plant were used as a laxative and to treat blood diseases.

    Disappearance of the Amerian Chestnut

    Since the middle of the 20th century, the American chestnut has all but vanished throughout the eastern United States, due to a chestnut blight. Today, secientists have made some progress in developing a blight resistant chestnut tree, and experiments are currently taking place at National Colonial Farm, located direstly across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon.

    Disappearing Animals?

    During Washington lifetime, the following animals lived in the forest on his Mount Vernon estate: American Bison, Black Bear, Timeber Wolf, and Passenger Pigeon. Which of these animals still lives in these forest today? For the answer, proceed to the next sign post.

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    Tour the Mansion

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    You have to get a ticket to see the mansion. Your able to walk through it, but only the same pace as everyone depending how many are standing in line. They have folks stationed in each room that explains all the details and the furnishings. What is nice you are able to see the first floor and the second foor too. The folks stationed in the different parts of the house are so friendly and will try to answer any questions you may have. Make sure to step outside around the back porch and sit in the rocking chairs. Beautiful view of the river and you get to experience what the Washington Family and their guest enjoyed.

    Tours:

    April through August, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    March, September, and October, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    November through February, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Adults $15.00
    Seniors ages 62+ $14.00
    Youth ages 6-11 $7.00
    Children under 6 FREE

    Discounted military tickets are available through ITT offices only.
    Please note that visitors younger than 16 must be accompanied by someone 16 years or older.

    Annual Pass (unlimited daytime admission for one year)
    Adults $25.00
    Youth $10.00
    Add a guidebook to an annual pass for just $5.00

    You can even purchase tickets online.

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    Kitchen

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    ".....a glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready, and such as will be content to partake of them are welcome those who expect more will be disappointed..." George Washington to George William Fairfax June 26, 1786.

    As was common on Southern plantations, the kitchen was built as a separate building from the Mansion. This distanced the Washington family and their many guest from the kitchen's unpleasant smoke, heat, noise, and smell. The kitchen was a very busy space, and enslaved cooks Nathan and Lucy, as well as numerous scullions, worked seven days a week preparing meals for the Mansion's tables. In 1799, Mrs. Forbes, the white hired housekeeper, lived in the rooms above the kitchens, where she could keep a close watch over the running of the household.

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    Pioneer Farmer Site

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    Visionary Farmer ~ I hope someday or another, we shall become a store house and granary for the world. George Washington 1788. While the world remembers him as a great military and political leader, George Washington would have told you he was first and foremost a farmer. By the Mid 1760s - more than decade before the Revolutionary War - Washington had switched his main cash crop from tobacco to wheat. He knew that wheat did not deplete the soil as quickly as tobacco and had economic advantages as well. Because the British did not regulate the sale of wheat as closely as tobacco, he had more markets in which to sell his wheat for great profit.

    Washington used the most modern scientific farming methods at Mount Vernon. He introduced an innovative seven year crop rotation plan and experimented with soil enhancers to increase the productivity of his fields. He acquired the most modern farm implements and began a progressive system of livestock management.

    He divided his Mount Vernon estate into five farms. The Washingtons lived on the Mansion House Farm, and the other four farms were for agricultural production. Each of the four outlaying farms was home to between 40 and 80 slaves, who worked from sun-up to sun-down six days a week to implement Washington's visionary ideas.

    In 1771, Washington opened a merchant mill. He transported wheat and corn grown at his famrs to the mill for grinding into flour and cornmeal. He sold these products as far aways as Europe and the West Indies. In 1797, Washington further expanded and diversified his farming operations by constructing a distillery next to his mill.

    Although Washington loved the life of a farmer, his motivation went far beyond personal satisfaction and profit. He believed that American exonomic success lay in the nation's ability to produce agricultural products that cound be sold around the world.

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    Greenhouse

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    George loved to experiment. Along with his gardeners, they would test their horticultural skills by growing plants exotic to Virginia. The Greenhouse provided warmth during the winter months, which allowed them plant and grow semi-tropical plants such as coffee, orange, lemon, lime, sago palm, and aloe. They would be transplanted into huge tubs during the summer months.

    On the other side of the Greenhouse contains several living quarters, where a slave tended the fire to keep the Greenhouse warm, so they lived in the Stove Room.

    Before the greenhouse, Washington studied designs, before finally adapting a design he liked from a similar structure in Baltimore, Maryland. Sadly, in 1835, the original Greenhouse burned down, but this one you see now was rebuilt in 1951.

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    Slave Burial Area

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    "Near George Washington's tomb you see the burying place of his slaves containing 150 slaves."

    Visitor to Mount Vernon, 1833

    Many African Americans free and enslaved who worked at Mount Vernon from the 1750's into the 19th century are believed to be buried near here, according to early visitor accounts, oral tradition, and a surviving circa 1860 map. Amoung them is William Lee, George Washington's personal servant during the Revolutionary War, who was granted freedom and an annuity in Washington's will. West Ford (1784-1863), a freed slave who was hired by the Washington family in the 19th century, is also thought to be buried here. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association sought Ford's advice in the early restoration of the estate. Today, a memorial stands at the center of the burial area, serving as a testament to the hundreds of slaves who labored on Mount Vernon's grounds and lay in unmarked graves.

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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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    Gardens~

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    The Upper Garden includes a wide variety of flowers and trees, boxwood planted in Washington's day, and a few vegetable beds.

    The Lower Garden supplied fresh produce. English boxwoods were planted in 1786. Vegetables and herbs are grown in the beds today, as well as cherry, apple, and other fruit trees.

    The Fruit Garden and Nursery was used by Washington to experiment with new seeds and plants before using them elsewhere on the estate. The gardens and its protective fence made it an ideal site to grow tree-ripened apples, pears, plums, peaches, and cherries.

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    Women's Bunk Room

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 1, 2011

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    The plaque reads:

    Had you entered this room one evening in 1799, you might have encountered ten to fifteen females slaves and perhaps their children. The women's lives were defined by work. They lived close to the Mansion, where a few were house slaves, and to the outbuildings, where others sewed clothing, cooked, or did laundry for the Washingtons. Some of these women were single, while othrs had husbands living elsewhere. Some of the women who lived hre included:

    Sall- House Maid
    Lucy and Delia -Knitters
    Charlotte -Seamtress
    Betty Davis and Delphy Judge -Spinners

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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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    Washington's Tomb

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 2, 2011

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    George Washington died in his bedchamber at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. In his will, he directed that he be buried at Mount Vernon. He also selected a site for a new brick tomb to replace the original burial vault which was deteriorating. The tomb was completed in 1831, and Washington's body was moved there along with the remains of his wife Martha and other family members. Tribute at the Tomb ceremonies take place 10am - 2pm, April - October.

    Everyone waited in line patiently and everyone were so very quite to show respect to those who are resting here.

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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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    16-sided barn

    by b1bob Updated Jul 6, 2006

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    As I alluded to in the intro, Washington regarded himself more as a farmer than a president or general. It was George Washington's vision that America would one day become a "granary to the world." Perhaps the most interesting of all Washington's farming innovations was a nearly round barn, with 16-sides, designed specifically for threshing wheat. Horses could efficiently thresh the wheat by simply trampling it, but that raises the question of sanitation. You wouldn't want horse leavings mixed in your flour, would you? Threshing it outdoors left the wheat exposed to the weather. So, Washington figured he would move the operation inside to operate more efficiently, reduce loss, and improve the quality of the grain. Work on the 16-sided barn began in 1792 while he was president at the end of his first term. It took two years for Washington's carpenters to finish the construction. The foundation and first floor of the barn were made of brick, and the second floor, of wood planks. The barn measured 52 foot (16 m.) in diameter with a 28 foot (8 m.) central octagonal section (used for storing unthreshed wheat). In this thresh barn, horses would run around and around within the lane, treading the grain out of the wheat. A farm worker was present to make sure that the horses did not stop running. (Horses do not go to the bathroom while they are running.) Washington designed the flooring for the barn's treading level so that there were 1-1/2 inch (2 cm.) gaps between the floorboards. As the horses trod out the grain from the straw, the grain would fall between the gaps to the first floor, where it was gathered up and stored until being taken to the gristmill to be ground into flour.

    16-sided barn

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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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Mount Vernon Things to Do

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