An “Ode” to Mount Vernon

Written by Caleb Ashley – Program Advisor, Operations

The Mount Vernon trip was one of my favorite events from my TFAS summer. I almost did not sign up because it seemed like a big commitment, and I did not want to spend several hours outside in the middle of summer, but Mount Vernon was worth it! I had never been, and I expected Mount Vernon to be an old dead plantation, a memorial to the past. In reality, history came alive as I walked the grounds. The estate had been carefully maintained so that it appeared the same way today as it had during Washington’s life.

27 U.S. Presidents have visited Mount Vernon and you can too!

Walking through Washington’s house deeply impacted me. I had expected a decadent palace, like what you would see in a Pride and Prejudice movie. Instead, Washington’s home was simple yet elegant. As the guide told us, the design was focused on functionality, not grandeur.  Washington was interested in spending time on his grounds managing the day to day operations of his estate, as opposed to inside his house. The moment that touched me the most was when we walked by the bed where Washington died. It is easy to think about figures like Washington in the abstract, but at that moment, his life, death, and impact seemed concrete. For a moment, I saw Washington as a man and not as the mythic figure that we are taught about and that realization made his life even more powerful.

Mount Vernon was 10 times the size of the average house in Virginia at the time of construction in 1734.

Beyond seeing the estate, the trip was an opportunity to build relationships with other students in the program. I went with my roommate, and we hung out with several students during the tour, including some we had not met before. We discussed American history and the beauty of the estate with others that shared our interests and built relationships that lasted the rest of the summer. I remember coming back to GW and feeling like I had met new people, and experienced something special as well.

The estate was named after the British Admiral Edward Vernon.

I highly recommend the Mount. Vernon trip, and I hope that all of you decide to come! You can purchase tickets for $35 in the Guidebook App. The trip on July 14 includes admission to the grounds and air-conditioned transportation to Mount Vernon from District House.

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