- Mount Vernon is the Virginia estate that belonged to George Washington, the first president of the United States of America.
- He acquired the property from his father and brother in 1754, and quickly began extensive renovations on its architectural structure and design.
- The 21-room mansion, and its expansive gardens and grounds, are also home to a museum and education center.
- You can even check out Washington’s dentures in the museum.
First president of the United States George Washington called the sprawling estate that was Mount Vernon home for most of his life.
His 21-room mansion, plantation, and gardens are located near Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington first acquired them from his family. He oversaw the expansions and reconstructions of the estate, and lived there until his death in 1799.
Keep scrolling for a look inside the stunningly ornate Mount Vernon.
Nestled along the banks of the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia, Mount Vernon was originally built by George Washington’s father.
George Washington’s father, Augustine, built an early iteration of what we now know as Mount Vernon in 1734. The estate began as a simple, one-and-a-half-story house, and it was Washington’s brother, Lawrence, who first dubbed it “Mount Vernon.”
George Washington acquired ownership of the estate in 1754, and promptly began expansions and renovations.
According to Mount Vernon’s official website, Washington supervised every aspect of the renovations – from the interior decor to the overall construction. Gradually, and even throughout the Revolutionary War, the estate expanded to its current 21 rooms.
Washington’s attention to detail came through in the various ornate rooms in the mansion, like the New Room, which took over two decades to build.
Built between 1774 and 1799, Washington’s New Room features turquoise walls, a two-story ceiling, and ornate furnishings. The room was designed to be a receiving area for visitors, and it was occasionally used for dining (that is, if Washington’s party was too large to fit into the traditional dining room).
Washington documented his plans for the room during the Revolutionary War, writing, “I would have the whole executed in a masterly manner.”
Apart from its plush decor and design, Mount Vernon was also a functioning plantation.
According to Mount Vernon’s official website, each of Washington’s five farms had what was called an “overseer,” or a supervisor. Mount Vernon’s was a man named Roger Farrell, who oversaw livestock, crops, and the plantation’s enslaved and free laborers.
Farrell also “supplied Washington with mutton, lamb, veal, and firewood,” and was paid $US133 per year to “repair fences around the estate, among other tasks.”
Here’s another view of Farrell’s quarters, located near the estate’s upper garden.
In 1799, Farrell also agreed to supervise the annual harvest of fish.
The third floor of the estate is rarely shown to the public, but it’s where Martha Washington retired after George’s death.
Due to “preservation purposes,” the third floor of the estate is usually closed. But when you can catch a glimpse, Mount Vernon offers a peek at the garret chamber, which is where Martha Washington retired after George’s death in 1799.
Washington kept slaves at Mount Vernon, 317 living there when he died in 1799.
Like many plantations at the time, Mount Vernon depended on the labour of enslaved people – though Washington himself questioned the idea of slavery later in his life.
According to Mount Vernon: “As a young man, Washington accepted slavery, but after the Revolutionary War, he began to question it. Washington avoided the issue publicly, believing that bitter debates over slavery could tear apart the fragile nation.”
Washington ordered in his will that all slaves at Mount Vernon be freed upon Martha’s death, though this order affected less than half of the 317 people. Mount Vernon’s website offers detailed descriptions of each slave, as well as information about their lives on the plantation.
Mount Vernon also houses a museum and education center, where you can see artifacts like Washington’s original, annotated copies of the Acts of Congress.
Boasting over 23 galleries and 700 historical objects, Mount Vernon’s museum is situated on the estate to give visitors a detailed look into the president’s life.
Everything – from Washington’s dentures to his personally annotated copies of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution – are available to gawk at.
The sprawling estate is also home to majestic gardens and landscapes.
George Washington also lent his keen eye to the design and development of Mount Vernon’s gardens. According to Mount Vernon, “he extensively redesigned the grounds surrounding his home, adopting the less formal, more naturalistic style of 18th century English garden landscape designer Batty Langley.”
The results: green, lush, and natural-looking gardens.
Washington also grew fresh produce and exotic plants.
These days, you can watch many reenactments on the grounds of the estate.
Here, an actor portrays George Washington and interacts with visitors of the estate. Mount Vernon also hosts reenactments of the Revolutionary War.
You can pose with George and Martha, too.
Mount Vernon saw 677 visitors in the year 1798, but these days, about 1 million people pay a visit to the estate annually.
Among the million or so visitors are world leaders, like Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.
The Spanish royals toured the estate in 2015, laying a wreath at George and Martha’s tombs, which are also located there.
And every year, Washington’s birthday is celebrated by the citizens of Virginia …
In this photo, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is speaking at Washington’s birthday celebration, celebrated annually at Mount Vernon. Descendants of the Washington family also attend, and share stories of past celebrations.
… and all over the country.
President’s Day is an annual, nationwide celebration of Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays in the US. But Washington’s birthday had been celebrated way before it was an official holiday, according to Mount Vernon:
“By 1932, the bicentennial year of Washington’s birth, the American map contained a Federal capital, a state, 33 counties, 121 cities and towns, 257 townships, 1140 streets, roads, and avenues, one mountain, three colleges and universities, and uncounted schools and lakes-all named for Washington.”
- Read more:
- Shocking things you didn’t know about every US president
- The top 15 presidents according to historians
- Here’s what every president’s signature looks like
- Cigars, painting, and crosswords: the surprising hobbies of 17 presidents
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