Mount Vernon: Home of George Washington

Fourth day … we finally got wheels. We rented a car from Hertz which will allow us to travel outside of Washington DC. Besides we also needed a car to get to Philadelphia and New York City later on.


Just a bit about car rental according to my experience. You know, I think that the business model of car rental companies is not really renting you a car … it is selling you the insanely exorbitant insurance. That is where they make money. They don’t make money renting you a car for $20 a day for sure. If they stop pushing you to get their insurance, they will close down in a heart beat. Do you agree?

We never buy their insurance because we have quite comprehensive coverage anyway from one of our “driver” credit cards. In the event of an unfortunate accident (touch wood), our exposure will only be compensating the car rental company for “loss of use” but other than that they (should be) sufficiently covered by the credit card company.

Oh … one more thing. We rented a compact car. When we went to pick up the car, they tried to push me to get an upgrade for something like “$5 per day only”. I declined and guess what … they gave me the upgrade all the same. I bet they already know they don’t have a compact car on their lot and why not see if I would pay extra for nothing.

OK, I digressed … back to the actual topic of this blog … Mount Vernon … Home of George and Martha Washington.


Mount Vernon is the estate where George and Martha Washington lived from the time they got married until the day that George Washington passed away. It is in this house above that is the center of Mount Vernon.


Mount Vernon is a huge estate and it is not easy covering the entire grounds. You will need to spend almost the entire day here. So, don’t expect to just see it all in 2 hours.

Mount Vernon is located about 30-40 minutes from Washington DC. Adult entrance is $13. There are extra tours like a Winery and Cruise which costs a few buck on top of the entrance fee.


The tour of Mount Vernon started at the Ford Orientation Center where they showed a film of young George Washington.


There is also a rather interesting doll house of Mt Vernon which shows how the house was laid out.


After spending some time at the Ford Orientation Center, we picked up our audio guide and off we went exploring the estate.


Mount Vernon overlooks the Potomac River which flows all the way to (from?) Washington DC. I can see why this particular spot is one of the best place to build a mansion. Although the design of the house is not overly grand but considering that this house is over 200 years old, well, it is the best as it could get then.


The Mount Vernon house is the most popular place … long line which snakes all the way through three buildings. Sigh … no photography allowed inside. We got a glimpse of how life was during his time and particularly his favourite rooms.


They have everything here in Mount Vernon. Back in those days, almost everything is home made. In Mount Vernon, they have a building specifically for washing, for repairing shoes, for making ropes, making paints, making linens, etc. This estate is actually a little town.


I just gotta share with you a cutting edge facility that is available in Mount Vernon back 200 years ago. it is what is called a necessary. You know what a “necessary” is?


A necessary is a necessary thing. Back then there are no flushing system but at least they locate this a bit of a distance from the house. I just wonder why there are three seats … and for that matter, why they are arranged sort of facing one another.


If George Washington had not been a soldier and a president, he would have been a farmer. His estate is one large experimental farm where here they devised very creative farming techniques of its time.


George Washington died in Mount Vernon and is buried here too. The above is the original burial chambers. His body was kept here until the structure began to crumble and they made a bigger, better one.


The father of the nation is now buried in a more respectable tomb.


Next to George Washington is Martha, his wife.


We took the ($9) cruise down the Potomac River from the Mount Vernon Estate. The cruise is fully narrated. I recommend opting for this cruise as it’s actually a good chance to rest yout tired feet from all the walking around the estate.


Actually Washington DC is not that far from Mount Vernon. We could actually see the Washington Monument and the US Capitol from the ship.


After spending something like 4-5 hours around the estate, we ended up at the Education Center and Museum. It was perhaps the best place in the entire estate because (1) they have chairs, (2) they have drinks, (3) the “necessary” flushes and and most important of all (4) they have air conditioning.


For a history buff like me, I enjoyed this part a lot.

More pictures after this jump … click “Read More” below to, well, read more …


A building for everything: the kitchen.


A building for everything: The paint cellar.


A building for everything: The Wash House.


A building for everything: a shoemaker house.


They even made their own barrels for storage.


A smoke house. These smoked meat can actually last for years — so they claim.


They spin their own yarns …


… and used a loom to make their own textiles.


Even maintained their own carriage.


And of course the barn.


The Overseer is the most senior of the workers. He helps run the estates and has a nice size building of his own.


The Gardener’s house is also pretty decent.


However, the entire estate is largely run by slaves. The above is a Slave Hut … one of several all over the estate. The estate is so large that some slaves live away from the main estate grounds.


The slaves cooked here …


… they eat here …


… and slept here. Not much privacy but life is good for a slave of those times in Mount Vernon.


They even put up a little monument remembering the contribution of the black slaves in Mount Vernon.


The Pioneer Farm was state of the art back in the 1700s.


The place was well-maintained but it’s actually quite a climb from here to the main mansion grounds.


More pix of the Pioneer Farm.


… ditto … Pioneer Farm. I think this is called the 16 sided barn or something.


It is a beautiful place, if not for the humidity and heat!!


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  1. Jessica

    That’s really weird how they have the toilets facing each other! Wonder why? I thought people were more private back then.

  2. KimHo

    Hi Ben,

    Regarding car rental insurance, actually, the answer might be yes and no. Check this link:

    They also have these other articles:

    Consumer Reports have this to say about car rental insurance:

    Resist the pitch for insurance. The car-rental agent will probably attempt to persuade you to buy insurance to cover any damage to your rented car. But your own automobile insurance policy might already provide protection. Most private policies cover rented cars as long as the person who signs the rental agreement is behind the wheel. If you have any doubts, check your policy or call your agent. Some credit-card companies also pay for rental-car coverage as a benefit for premium cardholders. Just make sure you use that card when you book your rental.

    (10 insurance policies you don’t need)
    3. Car-rental insurance. For $10 to $25 a day, it covers damages to cars and people if you are in an accident while driving one of the rental agency’s vehicles. Check to see if your credit card or your own auto policy will offer full coverage on a rental vehicle says Sandy Praeger, insurance commissioner for Kansas. Instead: If you’re already fully covered, don’t bother.

    (Which brings back to the first link).

    But, since you did your due diligence by checking your credit cards coverage, you might as well skip it.

    The only one time I rented a car – actually, the company I work for – I purchased insurance anyway, as (1) the company itself suggested when renting cars, we make sure there is enough insurance, (2) it was out-of-the-province and was not feeling comfortable driving on new streets/highways and, (3) it was going to be expensed…

    About the upgrade, yup, been there, done that. Again, in my only car rental experience, the car reserved for us (reservations were made by the company) was a “medium size, 4 four” car. When I arrive at the rental counter (my colleage’s flight had not arrived yet), they asked me if I wanted to upgrade it to a “2 door Mustang”. I told them “Look, this is company booked. Just give me what was booked”. In the end, I was still given the 2 door Mustang at no extra charge. Oh, despite all the “oh!” and “ah!” of the Mustang, I did not really like that car.

  3. Jessica

    WE had a Mustang last week when my husband was in town. It was expensed through his work and was a free upgrade. We both HATED driving the thing. It sucked so much gas!

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