Mount Vernon’s Director of Gift Planning, Rob Blizard, invited us to Mount Vernon and arranged a special private tour for us as owners of George Washington Inn. We had been asked to provide a couple of rooms from the inn for the upcoming “An Auction, By George” and were delighted to have a part in raising funds for the preservation of George Washington’s home. Rob Blizard and Sue Keeler, Manager of Protocol at Mount Vernon, met us in the Ann Pamela Cunningham building which houses the executive offices of this important private organization. In 1858 the Mount Vernon Ladies Association rescued Mount Vernon from ruin and has kept it preserved and open for millions to come and enjoy.
Our wonderful guide took us through various outbuildings and then into the mansion. She brought us new behind-the-scene insight into the preservation of the home and some unique stories about the Washington family. She removed the normal “out-of-bounds” barriers and took us up into the third floor attic where Martha Washington spent her final years. After her beloved husband’s death she moved out of their bedroom which was the custom of that day. We were invited to take pictures up in the cupola. Unfortunately taking pictures in the rest of the house is forbidden.
Having made many trips to Mount Vernon and after designing and building a replica of this American icon, it was of particular interest to see the attic area. The knee walls ended up very similar, along with the attic ceiling. Our guide told us stories of youthful inhabitants who had played in the ceiling crawl space in a bygone era.
I asked our guide if she could take us down into the cellar. She graciously went back to retrieve the necessary key and took us down below the ground to see the foundation and cellar of George’s mansion. It felt almost as if George could step out from one of the brick arched vaults where ice was once stored under the piazza. A deep well where food was lowered was also an outstanding feature. The decorative cornerstone, the original now on display, had been replaced with a replica. The movie, “National Treasure”, has created a lot of buzz about this cellar where the servants dined and stored food in its heyday.
Afterwards Rob Blizard graciously hosted lunch and gave us numerous booklets of significant interest about Mount Vernon.
Here are some pictures taken from the eight cupola windows showing the Mount Vernon winter landscape on our visit. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures shown below.