Mount Vernon Estate

The Mount Vernon home and estate still stands today beside the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia. This stately colonial, plantation house was the home of George Washington throughout most of his adult life. The land on which the famous estate was constructed was originally bought by George Washington's great-grandfather John Washington in 1674. Upon the death of John Washington in 1677, his son Lawrence Washington (George Washington's grandfather) received possession of the land. George Washington's father Augustine Washington then bought the land from George's Aunt Mildred in 1726. Augustine Washington then constructed a stone house on the property. This stone house stood in the same spot that the present-day Mount Vernon home now stands. Upon the death of George Washington's father, George's half-brother Lawrence Washington inherited the land and estate at Mount Vernon. It was George Washington's brother who named the land "Vernon," after Lawrence's commanding officer in the British navy. Lawrence's untimely death in 1752 bequeathed the property to his widow, Anne Fairfax. However, Anne soon remarried and had little to do with the maintenance of the estate thereafter. At this time, George Washington was already living on the Mount Vernon land and probably doing the majority of the upkeep on the house and lands. After the death of Anne Fairfax and her only son, George Washington officially became the sole owner of the Mount Vernon estate in 1761. Beginning in 1758, George made renovations to the original home that his father had built on the Mount Vernon estate. These renovations lasted for twenty years, with the end result being a huge two-and-a-half story mansion with twenty-one rooms and over 11,000 square feet of room. Historians are unsure if any one architect was responsible for the design of the Mount Vernon estate. However, it is widely believed that George Washington himself was mostly responsible for the design. As far as growing the farming lands around the Mount Vernon estate, George Washington consistently purchased surrounding farming land from the late 1750's until the 1780's. He grew many types of crops on his lands, including cash crops (such as tobacco, flax, hemp, cotton and silk) as well as agricultural crops (such as wheat and corn). Washington was very pragmatic in his approach to farming and experimented with what crops grew best under what conditions in order to maximize his profits. Washington also housed his slaves and indentured servants on his lands. George Washington spent many years of life at Mount Vernon so it was only fitting that he died there as well. Although his will requested that he be buried in a mausoleum on his Mount Vernon estate, it took over thirty-five years for this to be done, as there were some in the United States who wanted him to be honored in a burial at Washington, D.C. However, on October 7, 1837, George Washington's remains were finally buried on his old lands, along with those of his wife Martha Washington. To this day, the Mount Vernon estate is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is a popular spot for historic tourists in Virginia.