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Washington, D.C.'s Top 10 : Mount Vernon (part 1)

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This graceful mansion, on the banks of the Potomac River, is the second most visited historic residence in America after the White House. George Washington spent part of his childhood here and returned after his presidency. With many of the buildings and activities brought back to life, no other place better portrays the character of the first US president, or the role of slavery-based agriculture in the young republic. Be sure to visit the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center for exhibitions and artifacts.

George Washington Parkway

  • 703 780 2000

  • www.mountvernon.org

  • Open Apr–Aug: 8am– 5pm daily; Mar, Sep, Oct: 9am–5pm daily; Nov–Feb: 9am–4pm daily

  • Dis. access

  • Adm $13 adults; $12 senior citizens; $6 children 6–11 years; free under 6 yrs


Building Mount Vernon

The estate that was to be Mount Vernon had been in the Washington family since 1674. George Washington received ownership in 1761 but had already done extensive work on the house and grounds. Additions to the house were underway at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, but the dining room was completed after the war.


Façade

Visit Mount Vernon after 1pm, when special school programs are over.


The Mount Vernon shops sell seeds of some of the estate’s heritage plants.


Outside the main entrance is a complex with a full-service restaurant, the Mount Vernon Inn, offering specialties such as peanut and chestnut soup and salmon corncakes, and an efficient food court, serving snacks.



Top 10 Features
  1. Mansion’s Exterior

    The huge portico that overlooks the Potomac was the president’s own design. The house is built from pine, but the exterior was “rusticated” with a decorative treatment that re-creates the look of stone.

  2. Large Dining Room

    This impressive two-story room is formal enough for state business yet is inviting to all. Washington used boards placed on trestles for a table – easier to clear for dancing.

  3. Front Parlor

    This charming room was the main public space in the house. A copy of the earliest known portrait of Washington, by Charles Willson Peale, hangs here.

  4. Little Parlor

    Many visitors find this room a highlight of the mansion because it reflects the family life lived in the house. The original harpsichord Washington purchased for his step-granddaughter, Nellie Custis, is displayed.

  5. Study

    This study was the setting for Washington’s commercial, political, and public work. A famous bust of the president, commissioned by the Virginia Assembly, is displayed. French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon came to Mount Vernon in 1785 to make a plaster cast of the general’s head.

  6. Kitchen

    Mrs Washington directed a staff of slaves in the kitchen, and at least two cooks’ names have survived, Nathan and Lucy. Much physical labor was required for cooking – fuel and water had to be hauled in by hand.

  7. Lafayette Bedroom

    This guest bedroom, with its beautiful view of the Potomac, is one of five in the house and is where the Marquis de Lafayette, one of Washington’s military aides and a lifelong friend, stayed when visiting.

  8. Nelly Custis Room

    Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Nelly Custis, lived at Mount Vernon from early childhood. This comfortable room was hers; she even stayed here for a short while after she had married.

  9. Master Bedroom

    Often called Mrs. Washington’s Room, this is where George and Martha slept. Mrs. Washington ordered the bed in the 1790s.

  10. Cupola

    The cupola, with its “dove-of-peace” weather­vane, provides light to the third floor and aids air circulation in summer.

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