Mount Vernon, George Washington
Mount Vernon is the first and arguably most famous Presidential estates. In fact, Mount Vernon’s appeal very likely kept the United States from becoming something much closer to a monarchy since Washington was so anxious to get back to his estate he turned down a third term in office when it was pressed upon him by the American people.
The grounds are so lovely they could have invented the term bucolic, and the house is impressively maintained, retaining most of its original furnishings (and paint colors — the tour guides will talk at length about the mint color Washington chose for the dining room, believing it would aid digestion. No word on whether it worked). Of all the presidential estate tours, it also probably offers the most in terms of education. It hosts hundreds of school field trips every year, and you’ll gain insight not only on our first president, like the fact that he was a distiller (our first hipster home brewer), but also into daily life of America’s infancy. Guides give details of the grotesque medical practices of the time, including how doctors bled George Washington, and explain the estate’s legacy of slavery, reminding us how Mr. Washingon asked for all his slaves to be freed after his death.
In terms of presidential history, there is no better window than Mount Vernon.
Local tip: Go on a Sunday. On weekdays it’s lousy with school field trips. On Saturdays it’s lousy with tourists. Sundays tend to be pretty quiet, plus you can attend a mock service at the chapel on the grounds.Back to top