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George Washington's Mount Vernon - Distillery, Mansion and Landscape Tour

We have put together a tour of George Washington's Mount Vernon historic estate which will take us through his distillery and gristmill, mansion, the outdoor gardens and landscapes.

Undoubtedly the best-know house in the United States, Mount Vernon was the plantation house of George Washington, the first President of the Unites States and his wife, Martha Washington. It offers an inspiring insight into the life of Washington and is visited by over million Americans, each year.

Mount Vernon with the Washington family on the terrace
Mount Vernon with the Washington family on the terrace, by Benjamin Henry Latrobe

 Brief Historical Overview

Mount Vernon came into Washington's possession after the death of his older half-brother, Lawrence Washington. It remained his home for the rest of his life, though the call of official duties kept him away for long periods, mainly during the Revolution, and his two terms as President. In 1759 he brought his bride to Mount Vernon, and there, both breathed their last, Washington in 1799 and Martha three years later. Both are buried on the grounds.

When George Washington's ancestors acquired the estate, it was known as Little Hunting Creek Plantation, after the nearby Little Hunting Creek. The name was changed to Mount Vernon by Lawrence Washington who inherited it, in honor of Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, who had been Lawrence's commanding officer in the British Royal Navy. When George Washington inherited the property, he retained the name.

Mansion

The Mansion is built of wood inspired by the Palladian architecture, and was constructed by George Washington in stages between 1758, 1774 and 1776. Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture  derived from and inspired by the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio.

George Washington's Mansion at Mount Vernon
George Washington's Mansion at Mount Vernon
The Mansion is the centerpiece of George Washington's estate along the Potomac River and is ten times the size of the average home in colonial Virginia during the late 18th-century.

The exterior of the Mansion is rusticated to look like stone, but it is actually made of yellow pine siding boards. In doing so, Washington preserved the original house his father built in 1735, while expanding the house in 1758.

Distillery and Gristmill

In January 1797, James Anderson a Scottish farmer, who was a newly hired farm manager at Mount Vernon, convinced George Washington of starting rye and corn whiskey production. Although Washington was looking forward to a quiet retirement from the presidency and claimed to know nothing of the business, he was convinced by Anderson's expertise and by the market potential for whiskey.

George Washington's Grist Mill, Mt Vernon
George Washington's Grist Mill, Mt Vernon
In 1799, George Washington's distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it the largest whiskey distillery in America at the time. Today, a reconstructed working distillery produces small batch spirits on site and is open to visitors.

Gardens and Landscape

George Washington possessed a strong interest in landscape design and architecture and the landscape at Mount Vernon is a reflection of his passion and interest. The landscape was influenced by British landscape design.

Washington looked to English architect and landscape designer Batty Langley's book, 'New Principles of Gardening' published in 1728, as his guide on landscaping. Langley was a proponent of the naturalistic landscape, a picturesque style fashionable in England. In 1785, Washington began the task of re-landscaping Mount Vernon in a more naturalistic style, doing away with the geometric layout that had been there before.

Event Details

Event:

Description: A tour event of George Washington's Mount Vernon historic estate which will take us through his distillery and gristmill, mansion, the outdoor gardens and landscapes.

Date/Time: Sunday, May 28, 2017 11:00 AM to 3:30PM

Admission: $20 (includes distillery, mansion and private landscape tour) / Limited Spots
Tickets must be purchased using this link : Grapes & Grains Group Tour

Schedule

11:00 - 12:00 pm - Distillery and Gristmill Tour
5514 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy Alexandria, VA 22309

12:00 - 12:30 pm - Picnic Lunch outside the Gristmill
5514 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22309

Note: Bring your own snack/picnic food and we will have a nice picnic in the beautiful setting of the Gristmill park.

1:00 - 2:00 pm - Gardens & Landscape Tour
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121

2:20 - 3:30 pm - Mansion Tour
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121


References

Under Their Vine and Fig Tree: Travels through America in 1797-1799, 1805 by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz

Virginia Department of Historic Resources - 'National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form'

Mount Vernon website

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