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Day Trip: Mount Vernon

By Staff | Jun 20, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is a continuing series on local places of interest to visit for little or no cost.

Mount Vernon, located in Fairfax, Virginia, is often overlooked as a place to visit especially by those who live nearby. It is a favorite of school districts who bus in children each spring just before school lets out for the summer.

The estate is fascinating and offers a good bit of variety for all attendees. Of course the main house which has all rooms visible on the tour is furnished as it was in Washington’s day. Many of the furnishings are actual pieces owned and used by the family.

As one goes through the house, the final stop on the second floor shows the bedroom and actual bed where Washington died. That announcement from the tour guide never fails to generate comment.

It is quite interesting to see the kitchen and pantry of the home which are housed in separate buildings. The separation from the main house was common just in case there may be a fire in the kitchen.

Mount Vernon was the plantation house of George Washington and his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. The estate is situated on the banks of the Potomac River near Alexandria, across from Prince George’s County, Maryland. The Washington family had owned land in the area since the time of Washington’s great-grandfather in 1674. In 1739 they embarked on an expansion of the estate that continued under George Washington, who came into possession of the estate in 1754, but did not become its sole owner until 1761.

The mansion is built of wood and was constructed by George Washington in stages between 1758 and 1778. It remained Washington’s country home for the rest of his life.

In addition to the mansion, one can tour the property as well including the gardens, stables, slave quarters and Washington’s gravesite.

Following Washington’s death in 1799, under the ownership of several successive generations of the family, the estate progressively declined as revenues were insufficient to maintain it adequately. In 1858, the house’s historical importance was recognized and it was saved from ruin by The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; this philanthropic organization acquired it together with part of the Washington property estate. Escaping the damage suffered by many plantation houses during the American Civil War, Mount Vernon was restored.

Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still owned and maintained in trust by The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and is open every day of the year.

For additional information or to purchase online tickets at a discount, visit “http://www.mountvernon.org”>www.mountvernon.org.