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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens - Part 2

Estate Highlights:

The Mansion Tour. - George Washington acquired Mt. Vernon in 1754. The mansion has been continously expanded to every detail of construction, design and decoration within 45 years even while he was away at war. 

One thing to take note before the tour : - NO photos are allowed inside the mansion. So, reserve your cameras for the outside photo shoots :).

Outbuildings. - Along the east-west axis lies pleasure grounds of gardens and natural vistas, while on the north and south lanes tells the story of plantation life. As you stroll along in this area, you get to see where slaves used to do their work on various buildings, - the laundry, the dirty kitchen, the place where they spin for wool and linen, the place where they cure and prepare meats, and many other jobs that constantly supply the services and goods necessary to keep a large plantation running.

Washington's Tomb. - On December 14, 1799, George Washington died in his bed chamber at Mt. Vernon. He was buried at Mt. Vernon according to his will. The entire tomb was completed in 1831 where his body along with the remains of his wife Martha and other family members were moved there. Tributes at the tomb usually takes place daily from April - October.

Slave Memorial & Burial Ground. - this site is marked by a memorial to honor the slaves who lived and worked at Mt. Vernon. The land was used as a cemetery for slaves who worked during the 18th century to the first half of 19th century. Over the years, the original grave markers have disappeared and identities of at least 75 people buried there remained unknown. Tours here are daily at 2pm starting at the Mansion circle from April - October.

Gardens. - The Upper Garden includes various types of flowers and trees with a French fleur-delis design, while the Lower Garden supplies fresh food products for the Mt. Vernon kitchen. The Lower Garden is also known as one of the most noteworthy Colonial Revival gardens in America.

Forest Trail. - In the 18th century, mostly half of the estate's 8,000 acres was native woodland. This is a quarter mile trail providing a glimpse of the wilderness that used to supply firewood and lumber. It was also used to be a source of entertainment for Washington and friends for fox hunting who are visitors of the estate.

Pioneer Farmer Site. - Washington thought of himself as a farmer inspite of being a President and Commander in Chief. He recognized inadequacies of the 18th century farming practices, thus he pioneered innovative methods which include crop rotation and fertilizer use. This 4-acre exhibition farm is just a 5-minute walk south of the Mansion, adjacent to the wharf. It also features a 16-sided barn of Washington's inventions and a reconstructed slave cabin.

Potomac River Waterfront and Wharf. - The wharf was built in the 19th century which was used to transport goods by boat to Alexandria from Washington's farming and fishing businesses. It was restored in 1991. Sightseeing cruises  for 40 minutes are available in this area seasonally. You can purchase tickets at Ford Orientation Center or aboard the boat.

George Washington's Whiskey Distillery & Gristmill. - This utilized innovative technologies that were cutting-edge in the 18th century. Today, visitors can witness the water-powered mill in action as it was before. This is located 3 miles from the estate on Route 235 South. Opens daily from April - October and tickets are available at the Ford Orientation Center and at the Grismill Shop.

Shopping & Dining:

There are shops located at the Mt. Vernon Inn Complex which included the largest collection and best George Washington bookstore in the world, a Christmas corner 12 months a year, plus huge selection of toys, games, gifts and reproductions.

The Lady Washington shop is in the historic area near the greenhouse which features china wares, needle works, food, garden items and a toy corner.

The Mt. Vernon Inn restaurant serves lunch daily and accepts reservations for candlelit dinners Monday-Saturday. The Inn has 6 intimate dining rooms designed with colonial charm with costumed servers and delicious early-American cuisine.

Another dining area would be the food court which offers quick and various variety of gourmet burgers and fries, fresh pastries, deli sandwiches and salads, pizzas, cookies and ice cream. It has a glass-enclosed pavilion and an open-air terrace as dining areas.

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