At my mom’s request, we made the trip out to Mount Vernon, the estate of George Washington, on Sunday. Located at the end of the GW Parkway , MV is located about 15 scenic miles outside of DC, on the banks of the Potomac River. We picked up Mom, Eric, and Marie from the hotel, packed everyone into our little blue Fit, Richard Simmons, and set off on our exciting drive. Despite missing the exit for the GW Parkway and having three potentially very motion-sick people in the back seat, we arrived in one piece on a gorgeous fall day.
Admission to MV is currently $13 for adults, but SB and I paid $5 extra each for an annual membership, which means that in the future we can go out, pay no admission, and perhaps just pay for extras like the Potomac River cruise. $13 for one day is kind of steep, but $18 for one year – even if we only go one more time – is totally worth it.Upon admission (and the most terrible ID photos ever), we were greeted by this sheep:
OK, OK, the sheep didn’t actually have much to do with anything, but he was one of the first things we saw. One of the really exemplary aspects of MV is the work that has been done to educate visitors about MV as an estate, not just as the home of the first President. At its peak, the estate included 8,000 acres and 5 distinct farming/development areas – there are four acres currently dedicated to a working farm.
In 1860, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association bought up the property and set to work preserving and restoring the building and the grounds. We skipped the mansion, but Mom said it was totally worth waiting in the long line. We opted to sit on the veranda.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if the estate had whitewashed the fact that the Washingtons had owned slaves – this is the sort of revisionist history that is to be expected – but evidence of the slaves – their quarters, their graves, and Washington’s will stating that the slaves were to be released – was well integrated into the estate and its educational materials. In addition to the family graves, there was a quiet memorial for the slaves nearby.
After the memorials, we walked down the slope to the boathouse and the shore of the Potomac. The entire day was gorgeous and informative – with the exception of Washington’s teeth.
Washington apparently had horrific teeth – through no fault of his own (as far as we read). He spent a great deal of money on dental work, and at the time of his inauguration, he only had one tooth remaining. He had eight complete sets of dentures in his lifetime, one of which is on display in the education center. None of them were made of wood, but all of them were pretty gross.