Washington's Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon has been restored to what it would have looked like in 1799. BY RON MACARTHUR
April 21, 2011

When asked, George Washington would call himself a farmer – not the first president or a war hero.

He spent as much time as possible ­– when not on the battlefield or tending to the nation’s business – at his Mt. Vernon home. Over a 45-year period, he was able to amass 8,000 acres with 10 miles of shoreline on the Virginia shore of the Potomac River. Considered the wealthiest man in the United States, he oversaw five farms on the property growing a variety of crops and using innovative farming techniques.

Mt. Vernon and its original 2,000 acres was deeded to Washington’s great-grandfather, John Washington, in 1674 and George Washington inherited the mansion in 1761 after the death of his brother Lawrence’s widow.

Washington expanded the mansion, grounds and gardens throughout the four decades he lived there.

After his death in 1799 and his wife Martha’s death two years later, most of the mansion’s furnishings and mementos were auctioned off. It wasn’t long before the mansion fell into disrepair.

In 1860, the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association stepped in and purchased the mansion and several hundred acres for $200,000. It’s been the mission of the association to restore the mansion and grounds to what it looked like in 1799.

  • Ron MacArthur has lived and worked in Sussex County all his life. As a journalist for more than 40 years, he has covered everything from county and town meetings to presidential visits. He also has a unique perspective having served as an elected official and lived on both sides of the county.

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