A Fresh View:
Mount Vernon with Ann Purcell
Poor serious George Washington! His stern demeanor may
sometimes have come from wearing wooden teeth to substitute for his own, but probably more often because of his concerns as a dedicated gentleman farmer. About half an hour south of Metropolitan Washington D.C. is a grand photo opportunity, Mount Vernon, George's farm estate.
The house which is open every day of the year is best
The Potomac River entrance
photographed either at sunrise or sunset. The 'front' of the house (which was actually George Washington's back door) is best photographed around four o'clock P.M. The 'back' of the house, on the river side, which is the door through which George's visitors entered, is a stunning sunrise shot.
If you have chosen to be at Mount Vernon in the afternoon, don't neglect to walk to the end of the large lawn and take a long zoom-lens shot through George Washington's front gate with the house in the background. If you opted to do the morning shot of the pillared entrance, walk around the house to get the rising sun shining through the cupola windows on top of the roof. If you go inside, you'll see many of the original furnishings and paint colors which were in use during George and Martha's lifetime. Do not, however, count on getting good interior shots. Tripods and flash are not allowed in order to protect the antique furnishings and the other visitors.
An easy walk about half a mile south of the main house is the pioneer farm site of Mount Vernon where George built a round grain-cracking barn, a corn crib and a stables. Although these structures did not survive intact since the late 1700's, they are rebuilt on the original foundations. Georgia-Pacific Corporation donated the unfinished logs and the wood was hewn with the old-time tools so that the finished results faithfully represent the work done by George Washington himself.
George Washington's front gate
In a field nearby is a large vegetable garden which was used to supply the Washington kitchen. The pioneer farm site is best photographed in late morning with a moderate to very wide angle lens.
The original recessed brick family burial vault used by the Washingtons is in a secluded and very dark setting immediately south of the main house. The bodies of George and Martha are, however, with some other family members in an ornate tomb nearby. Because the tomb faces south and is heavily shaded, it presents a real photographic challenge.
There are also many domestic outbuildings to visit at Mount Vernon. Today there are still sheep, pigs and cows being kept where George reared the livestock used for food and for clothing for his family, slaves and guests. Over thirty acres of fields, gardens, and slave burial grounds beg to be photographed.
Front of George Washington's house
Wooden teeth aside, George Washington had reason to look serious. Your photos of Mount Vernon will show that he put a tremendous amount of effort into his chosen occupation as a gentleman farmer.
Copyright: Ann F. Purcell
5913 Skyline Heights Court
Alexandria, VA, 22311