Friday, September 4, 2009

Mount Vernon

Here’s yet another nearby major attraction that I’ve somehow missed in the last 31 years of living in Virginia. Kind of like being a New Yorker who’s never been to the Statue of Liberty. (Yes, I’m guilty of that, as well.) At any rate, we decided to spend a few hours at Mount Vernon on our way north for a dinner engagement, and I was really surprised at what a wonderfully presented historic site this is. Which of course is only fitting for the Father of Our Country.

Mount Vernon is a beautifully preserved estate, and additional visitor buildings have been added to the site to tell the complete story of George Washington. The setting overlooking the Potomac River is gorgeous, and is surrounded by green fields and lush woods. Despite its size, the mansion is actually an intimate and relatively un-lavish space, with small rooms all furnished with many original items. I’ve been in quite a few historic homes lately (Kenmore, Montpelier, Ellwood) where there is no furniture, or barely any, and fully furnished rooms really do help transport visitors back in time and give a glimpse into the daily life of the inhabitants. In addition to the house, there are so many other outbuildings and features to see: the kitchen, smokehouse, blacksmith, weaver, slaves’ quarters, stable, coach house, greenhouse, and acres of gardens. But wait, there’s more! There were more outbuildings to see, trails to walk, farm and wharf exhibits to check out, films to watch and museum displays to digest than we could possibly fit into the mere three hours we allotted to the visit. Next time, we’ll plan to spend the whole day there.

The day was absolutely beautiful for walking the grounds (lots of walking), there wasn’t a big crowd, and the $15 admission price seemed fair. If you can stand the drive up I-95 (oh, how we hate I-95), this is a great place to take guests with an interest in history. Which you probably already know.

Martha greets visitors:

The view overlooking the Potomac:

Just a tiny corner of one of the many gardens:

George and Martha's tomb:

The memorial to the Washington family slaves:

George on horseback, just one of several wax figure displays in the education center:

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