Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wishing I was back at Mount Vernon

I hadn't had a chance to blog yet about what was probably my favorite part of our trip to Virginia: visiting George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon.

I think what intrigued me most of all about it was the history of its restoration by the Ladies Association.  When a group of women learned the estate was in ruins, they took action, and the country's first historic preservation society was born.  To this day, members of the Association -- all women -- seek out original belongings of the estate and try to buy them, or get them donated.  They try to bring them home.  I found that so romantic.  From the website:

"Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, a private, non-profit organization founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham. ...Mount Vernon does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes. Primary sources of income are revenue from the retail and dining facilities, ticket sales, and donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals...
 






The estate, gardens and farm of Mount Vernon totaled some 8,000 acres in the 18th century. Today, roughly 500 acres of this historic estate have been preserved 16 miles south of Washington, D.C., on the banks of the Potomac River. Visitors can see 20 structures and 50 acres of gardens as they existed in 1799. The estate also includes a museum, the tombs of George and Martha Washington, Washington's greenhouse, an outdoor exhibit devoted to American agriculture as practiced by Washington, the nation's most important memorial to the accomplishments of 18th-century slaves, and a collection which features numerous decorative and domestic artifacts."

 Mount Vernon is situated on the Potomac River.  This is the view from the back porch of the estate...


There were so many picturesque views, everywhere you looked:


the promenade...


the weather vane...


his gardens...


this sweet side yard, where the laundry was laid out to dry...


and so much more!


I hadn't realized that Washington was buried at Mount Vernon; this was his original tomb.  In his will, he made a provision for a new, larger tomb to be built for his family, and his remains moved there upon completion.  He even chose the spot.


And so it was.  Here is George and Martha's final resting place.

We weren't allowed to photograph the inside of Washington's stately, but humble, home.  I did buy some wonderful postcards of my favorite rooms, though:


We saw Washington's presidential chair in the house, as well as the very bed in which he passed away from an upper respiratory infection.  The museum and learning center, which is separate from the house, was SO worthwhile.  We spent hours there.  In the museum, you can see Washington's false teeth!  I thought that was pretty incredible.


We ate lunch in the restaurant, called the Mount Vernon Inn, and I would encourage anyone visiting to do so.  I was just in love with the paper menu, and I asked for and was given a souvenir copy.  The note card laying on the menu was the only other thing besides a Christmas ornament that I bought at the gift shop, although I was very tempted to buy more; it's a whole set of stationary made from some of the sketches of the estate, in sweet red toile!


This is Dennis in the restaurant, holding up the restaurant's own brand of Harvest Ale and Stout -- both of which were delicious!  That concoction in front of him is their famous Virginia Peanut and Chestnut Soup!  It was also very, very yummy, as was my roast beef sandwich.  Everything there was amazing!  For dessert I had, of course, cherry pie!


While dining, I was just in heaven admiring the reproduction of original estate wallpaper that decorated the walls of the room we were in.  Each room's wallpaper was different, and I was very glad we were seated next to this beauty!


In fact, my newest inspiration is some of the lovely colonial beauty, especially the fabrics, we saw all over the estate!  I think I'm on the road to becoming a fan of Mrs. Washington's style!



I am also on the lookout for the George Washington memorial plates -- most especially the purple (or mulberry) colored ones!  Swoon!  (I saw a single such plate in an antique store for only $15, but didn't want to have to worry about getting it home in one piece.  Naturally, I'm kicking myself now!)

9 comments :

Christine said...

Beautiful!!! I haven't been to Washington but if I go, I'll definately put this on the to do list.

Blessings,
Christine

Angela said...

Thanks for more sight-seeing! That card you sent David is from that stationery set, isn't it? We wondered what the pic on it was, now we know! :o)
The part about his tomb was very interesting, I hadn't known that either!

Linda Sue said...

I had no idea that mount Vernon was so cool...when we went to DC I said "no" to a trip there thinking it would just be too fake and corny...next time!Thanks for the trip and I am sorry you did not take the plate on carry on...DANG!

dosfishes said...

Wow, what a great tour, and that wallpaper, yum, as was I am sure the cherry pie. What a view of the Potomac. Some mail on the way to you, finally.
xox Corrine

Micki said...

I've been to Mt. Vernon...It is so pretty! Thanks for the great pics...They brought back some lovely memories.
Micki

Pretty Things said...

My husband and I actually biked up there from the bike path that runs along the river. VERY steep. Man oh day. Never again on a bike!

Lydia said...

Great pictures and info!

Did you know that the town next to me, Boonsboro, has the 1st monument in the US built for Washington? The town was founded by Daniel Boone's cousins.

:)Lydia

Something Special said...

Thanks for sharing with us all. These pictures are wonderful. It is so green back there in the east, and those gardens are lovely. You were such a great swapping partner, that I would like you to check out the latest swap I am hosting. The fall intrigues basket swap. come say hi and check it out!

Janet said...

Thank you so much for taking us on a "tour" of Mt. Vernon. I was there when I was 12 (a very looong time ago) but would love to revisit now that I have alot more history under my belt and a larger appreciation of all of it. THe area where the slave accomplishments would be so great!