Learn about Mount Ver­non

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@outlook.com

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

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