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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Marvel of Washington’s Mount Vernon

MountVernonToday is Presidents’ Day, celebrating both Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and so, we turn our sights to the first American president’s home, Mount Vernon, only a few miles outside of Washington, DC, on the Potomac River.  This Virginia Plantation is a marvel of historic preservation, for the mansion and the grounds had fallen into disrepair only 50 years after George Washington’s death in 1799.

The story goes something like this:

Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina heard a story mt.vernontold by her mother.  A ship on which she was a passenger sounded its bell as it sailed past Mount Vernon, in homage to the nation’s First President.  Miss Cunningham’s mother made her way to the deck to see this august site and was shocked and horrified by a dilapidated and overgrown manor house.  The ladies felt that something was quite wrong if the men of our country could not see to its proper preservation, and Miss Cunningham put together the first national preservation society in 1853, formed entirely of ladies.

mtvernonThe Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association asked the American people for $200,000 to purchase the mansion and 200 surrounding acres from a great-grandnephew of George Washington.  By 1858, they were able to purchase the property and embark on its restoration, opening the mansion to the public in 1860, despite the fact that the country would soon be embroiled in the Civil War.

Today, the Ladies’ Association still owns and runs the property in trusteeship, with one lady from each of approximately 30 different states represented.  They raise funds for the private initiative project which receives no 6a00d834518cc969e201156eb0e838970c-320wigovernmental assistance and includes extensive outbuildings in addition to the mansion, along with barns, livestock, farming plots and gardens, restaurants and gift shops, museum and educational center, Washington’s tomb, and the new, multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art scholars’ library to open to historians next fall.

Washingtons_Mt_Vernon_Study_by_Hal_ConroyMost everything in the historical sector is just as it would have appeared in 1799.  The ladies have made Mount Vernon come alive and I think General Washington would be very proud. No wonder it’s a site that most schoolchildren and heads of state eventually visit.

Keep in mind that every Presidents’ Day is free day at Mount Vernon when no admission is charged, and leashed dogs are always welcome on the grounds outdoors.  What a great day for an educational outing.



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    Very interesting tale of the first American preservation society. Would love to see Mount Vernon again…

    • avatar admin says:

      I know, hoonew, isn’t that something? Its uniqueness is in the fact that it was national in scope and run by ladies. (But we all understand that women are taking over the world because we can multi-task so well….) 🙂

  2. avatar Nancy says:

    I worked at Mt. Vernon while I was in college, in the early ’80s. I’m so happy to see you know Mt. Vernon’s history – it is really a remarkable story! I remember hearing about one of the ladies having to sneak money that had been raised for Mt. Vernon across the “border” between north & south during the Civil War. If memory serves, she hid the money in a basket under some eggs! 🙂
    When I worked there, the Ladies had just begun work to restore the mansion to it’s appearance in 1799 – the year George Washington died. I had the priviledge of seeing some amazing and unique restoration work, as well as the pleasure of working with some wonderful people. Thanks for posting this – it brought back some really good memories!

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s amazing, Nancy, thanks for sharing your experiences with us! I love the riot of spectacularly bright colors inside the mansion. Having lived in a number of old houses, I can only imagine what they went through to see it to completion.

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