Mount Vernon - George Washington's Home
Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, is located along the Potomac River and about a ½ hour drive from Washington, DC. It is a historical and picturesque place to visit. Mount Vernon opens at 9:00 a.m. from November through March it closes at 4 o’clock the rest of the year it closes at 5 o’clock.
Admission is $20 for those 12 and above and $12 for children between 6 and 11. Children 5 and under are free. Military and veterans are eligible for a $6 discount. Admission is free for Purple Heart recipients.[i]
Besides the Mount Vernon estate there is a reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill. This is 2.7 miles (5 kilometers) from the estate’s main entrance.[ii] The distillery and gristmill are fully functional and they put a batch of whisky on sale each year. As Pat Sajak says in Mount Vernon’s overview film, “Sorry, no free samples”. The tickets are $6 for those 6 and up.
If you are planning a visit check the website to see if any special events are planned.
[i] George Washington’s Mount Vernon, https://www.mountvernon.org/, last accessed 6/25/19.
[ii] George Washington’s Distillery® and Gristmill, https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/distillery-gristmill/, last accessed 6/30/19.
Next to the front entrance there is the Ford Orientation Center. The center has brochures in numerous languages. There is a large, scale model of Mount Vernon’s Mansion. The Center has an auditorium that shows the film, “We Fight to Be Free”. The film is 24 minutes. It is initially set on the eve of Washington crossing the Delaware. The film flashes back to the French and Indian War where then Colonel Washington of the Virginia militia took command of the situation after British General Edward Braddock was mortally wounded.[i] The film is part of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association efforts to let people understand, besides being the first President of the United States, George Washington was an action hero.
There is usually a line to get into the Mansion. When entering Mount Vernon you will be given a time to enter the line for the estate. How long you will have to wait depends on the season. It is worth the wait. Near the Mansion there are smaller structures, including the women’s and men’s slave quarters. The rear of the Mansion gives a spectacular view of the Potomac River. The Mansion’s siding appears to be stone but that is an illusion. The siding is wood. A combination of sand and paint gives it the appearance of stone. The Mansion is 21 rooms of late 18th century elegance. An artifact in the Mansion is the key to the Bastille. Marquis de Lafayette gave George Washington the key after French citizens stormed the Bastille. The Mansion has a room named the Lafayette Room. The room has a portrait of Lafayette. George Washington commissioned the painting in 1779. Lafayette stayed in this room in 1784.[ii]
On the grounds there is the Old Tomb, where George Washington’s body stayed from December 14, 1799 to 1831. The New Tomb is the current resting place of George and Martha Washington. There is a daily wreath-laying ceremony at the New Tomb. There is a Slave Memorial in tribute to the enslaved people that lived and worked at Mount Vernon.
There is the Pioneer Farm that has livestock and demonstrations. There is a reproduction of George Washington’s 16-sided barn. The barn was one of George Washington’s farming innovations. It was used for treading wheat.
The wharf is where, for a fee, visitors can board a ship and take a short boat tour along the Potomac River.
[i] Sebastian Roché, who played George Washington in this movie, explained when filming he had to control his horse, while shouting out his lines through all the noise of a simulated battle. From this experience he could only imagine how difficult it must have been for George Washington in the actual battle.
[ii] George Washington’s Mount Vernon, https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-mansion/, last accessed 6/30/19.
Museum and Education Center
The Donald W. Reynolds Education Center tells about the life of George Washington. It highlights his first job as a surveyor, his actions in the French and Indian War[i], his business ventures, his heading the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, and his role in forming the United States of America and being its first president. There is also an exhibit that tells of the lives of slaves in Mount Vernon. George Washington’s dentures are on display. They are not made of wood. Photography of the dentures is prohibited.
The center has films running in different places. One Auditorium shows a film of George Washington’s later years from Martha Washington’s perspective. There is the Revolutionary War 4D Theater. The film in this theater tells of George Washington’s military victories at Boston, Trenton, and Yorktown. A small section about espionage in the Revolutionary War shows a short film that portrays George Washington as a spymaster. The last theater before the exit is the Gay Hart Gaines Legacy Theater. This theater has a panoramic screen. The film plays “America the Beautiful” as it shows images of America. Historian David McCullough and General Colin Powell give the narration.
[i] This is also known as the Seven Years War.
The Exit and Beyond
There is a winding corridor to the exit. There are windows on one side. The other side tells the story of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association’s efforts to restore and preserve Mount Vernon and its view of the Potomac River. Past the exit there is a gift shop, a small food court, and the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.
There is a shuttle bus from the main entrance to the distillery and gristmill. Visitors can also drive there. It is open from April to October. The mill includes a water wheel that is used to grind grain. George Washington’s distillery was producing almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey. He was one of the largest, possibly the largest, producers of whiskey in the country when he died. Five of Washington’s slaves; Hanson, Peter, Nat, Daniel, James, and Timothy made the whiskey.[i]
[i] George Washington’s Distillery®, https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/distillery/, last accessed 6/30/19.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Robert Sacchi