Mount Vernon, VA, September 6, 2012
09.06.2012 85 °F
The strangest thing happened this morning-it rained! We haven't seen much rain at all and we don't even think about it when planning our day, but today was a problem. We planned to go to Mount Vernon and going in the rain did not appeal to either of us. So we killed some time and waited it out and after lunch the rain finally stopped, so we went. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which was founded in 1853, was specifically started to purchase and preserve George Washington's estate. The Association has done just that and never accepted any state or federal funding for its mission. They have done a fabulous job of it.
When I think of Mount Vernon I think of a house, but there is so much more than that. There are 25-30 things to see when you are there and we tried to see them all. First and foremost is the mansion. It originally belonged to George's father who bequeathed it to his oldest son, Lawrence. George acquired it from his step brother and made lots of changes. The original house was only 4 rooms, so he first added a second and third floor with 10 bedrooms for all their guests. After that he added on to both ends of the house, one side was family quarters for him and Martha, the other a large dining, conference, ballroom. All the rooms have been lovingly restored to 1799 appearance, when George died.
The President, Martha and 25 family members are buried in the tomb on the property and about 150 of his slaves on the property as well. There are so many outbuildings that it is like a small town. George was very forward thinking and tried to be as self-sufficient as possible, so he had just about everything they needed right there at the estate. They grew their own food, made their own cloth and clothing and took care of all other aspects of daily farm life in the 1700s.
Also on the property is a wonderful orientation center with a terrific movie to get you going. At the end of the day is a the fantastic Musem and Education Center. This is a state-of-the-art facility with 23 gallery and theatre spaces designed to show you the real George Washington. You can even take the oath of office. One truly amazing thing was done by a forensic lab to determine what he would have looked like at 27 and 57 years old. All portraits of him were from his older years, so there was never anything from when he was a young man or boy. How sad. The George Washington they came up with looks a bit different from the one we always think of.
I guess you can tell we had a fabulous day and loved Mount Vernon in spite of the weather.
It was hot and humid and the rain made it worse this morning. Finally, this evening, the skies cleared quite a bit and the humidity seems to be down some. Hallelujah!