Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Mount Vernon - Part One
The grounds of Mount Vernon were much larger than I imagined. Walking the grounds around Mount Vernon I discovered that there were a wide variety of landscapes. Lush beautiful flower gardens were plentiful as well as a garden that produced food. A seed house, greenhouse, and nursery accompany these gardens. Plush green lawns were plentiful and well maintained. We walked among trees in the woods and down to the wharf on the Potomac. The grounds surrounding the mansion awed me with their size and grandeur.
The grounds were dotted with outbuildings. It was a village with its own blacksmith shop, ice house, salt house, and shoemaker shop. On the grounds was a wash house, spinning house and storehouse.
The kitchen was not in the mansion, but in a separate building and was not particularly close to the mansion house. It looked to be quite a walk to me to carry food from the kitchen house to be eaten in the mansion. It made me tired thinking of all the carrying that must have been required. As I looked into the kitchen house, I thought about the work required to prepare food. Although this kitchen house was probably as modern as it could be, there was nothing there that spoke of ease or comfort to me. The cellar where food kept cool was a far cry from my current refrigerator.
The Mansion looked spectacular to me as we walked towards it for a tour. The outside looked just as I had seen it in pictures. Careful records were always kept at the instructions of George Washington. An accurate inventory of each item and each room allowed the interior to be restored to the way the house looked in 1799, the year that George Washington died. The rooms were decorated with original furnishings, period pieces, and replicas.
The first room we entered was beautiful and opulent. It was decorated as a 'show room' for entertaining guests and diplomats and dining. Mount Vernon was bustling with dignitaries and large formal dinners. During some years, Mount Vernon's New Room hosted guests more than sixty percent of the days in the year. The New Room was also the location of George Washington's permanent picture gallery.
I was fascinated by each room in Mount Vernon. But none of them was as elegant as the New Room. They appeared well appointed and comfortable, much as I would have expected them to look like in the 1700's. Quilts and furnishings were lovely - but more casual and every day looking to me.
End of Part One