Learn about Mount Vernon
Last October, The Washington Post had a special section included in the weekend edition highlighting homes of special importance in the Washington, D.C., area — houses where U.S. presidents had once lived.
The folk-style artwork on the front of the section is what really caught my eye. I recognized Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier right away, but the other seven historical homes represented on the page were unknown to me, sprawling mansions with names like Sherwood Forest and Highland.
The information about each house was brief, but included enough interesting points on each to whet my appetite. I’ve lived here in the D.C. area most of my life, and yet there are still so many worthwhile destinations within a few hours drive that I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.
A couple of months after reading that article, we were brainstorming how we could make the best use of a day the kids had off from school, and those presidential homes popped into my mind. A family challenge was born.
My husband, who’s more interested in history than I am, was game. So we made a commitment to visit all 10 of those homes over the next year or two.
On probably the coldest and windiest day of February, we bundled up and piled into the car for a field trip of our own making to Mount Vernon. It’s a fairly quick drive across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, then down the George Washington Parkway a couple miles.
I’d been to Mount Vernon a long time ago in elementary school, when it was the stan- dard destination for the annual fourth-grade field trip. Frankly, I didn’t remember much about the house, but it will be no surprise to long-time readers of this column that even as a 9-year-old child, the extensive gardens stuck in my mind after all of those years.
There wasn’t much to see in the gardens in February. In fact most of the cold ground was bare dirt save for a few leafless fruit trees and low evergreen bushes. But I could still envision how verdant and lush the vegetable beds and fruit trees would be in the height of summer.
Looking through the museum refreshed my memory of Washington’s life and the American Revolution. All the details rang a bell in my mind, and old memories from history class and the dates and figures I had memorized for high school and college exams came flooding back.
The displays tell quite a story. The highpoints are items that most of us learned about many years ago, in our youth. However, seeing them all again as a mature adult experiencing the difficulties of our world today, it makes a great impact. Our nation, its principles, and its founding were quite amazing and makes for one heck of a stor y.
If it wasn’t for a few lucky turn of events, things might