The Grounds Of Mount Vernon

An old water pump sits between the stables and the main house.
An old water pump sits between the stables and the main house. [Click to enlarge photos]
The arched walkway connecting the main house to the kitchen building.
The arched walkway connecting the main house to the kitchen building.
The quiet Potomac River riverbank near the estate's wharf.
The quiet Potomac River riverbank near the estate’s wharf.
The Washhouse and Coach House are visible from the well-tended garden.
The Washhouse and Coach House are visible from the well-tended garden.
Dirt road leading to the stables along the east side of the gardens.
Dirt road leading to the stables along the east side of the gardens.
The stables are a reminder of the era when most transportation was provided by working animals.
The stables are a reminder of the era when most transportation was provided by working animals.

It is said that Mount Vernon is one of the country’s most beautiful estates, but after a short walk around the grounds of this incredible property, I can’t help but think that this observation is a gross understatement. That is, of course, provided you can allow your eyes and imagination to see beyond the massive amounts of tourists (not to mention high schoolers loudly taunting the animals on the property) that descend on the place like locus the moment the weather warms up a bit. You just have to blank that out and let yourself be transported to the period when our First President and his family roamed the grounds of this quiet haven along the mighty Potomac River.  If you do that, then you’ll get a better picture of what life must have been like in such a beautiful place.

I had been to Mount Vernon briefly before, but during my first visit I didn’t have the opportunity to walk around the extensive grounds of the estate. The Mansion itself was impossible to visit at this time, as the line for those waiting to enter was about a quarter mile long. No worries, though, because the grounds themselves deserve a visit in their own right. In the quiet solitude of those expansive grounds, I could understand why this place held such fascination for the great General.  In fact, after having reluctantly agreed to serve a second term as President (and adamantly refusing to serve a third), he couldn’t wait to get back to his property. I can see why.  Places like this, and the lifestyle they surely afforded the First President, must have been the direct opposite of what President Washington had to endure in the city. Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and with the exception of some well-deserved maintenance and the imposing Museum/Education Center, the place looks pretty much the same as it did when the Washington family lived there. George Washington, the master surveyor, certainly knew how to pick a place. Then again, no one could ever doubt the great man’s many talents.