Mount Vernon, The Estate of George Washington
This window view holds vast information of stories from our past. It witnessed countless royal visitors & guests during the founding of our nation, watched the country take shape, and showcases a glowing representation of quality construction that has stood the test of time. George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, represents many firsts, and as voyeurs of architectural history, we will touch on his influence in architecture.
As we walked up the magnificent driveway to Mount Vernon, we were at first dismayed to see the exterior shrouded in scaffolding. After miles of traveling we were devastated at the thought of missing the original design of the house, but then, we got closer. Upon first glance, the facade of the house appears to be made of stone; however, the appearance of stone is achieved by layering a paint and sand mixture over beveled wooden side boards. During our visit, the textured outer coating had been removed, showing the bare bones of the underlying wood. Preservationists had stripped exterior layers of paint down to old growth pine. This process uses the center of the older, more dense trees to provide a denser, longer lasting, straight board. This process is repeated every five years to ensure the stability of this national treasure. Shockingly, most of Mount Vernon’s siding is original. We were in awe. This home looks as though it was constructed recently, rather than over 250 years ago. The size of the house and estate is baffling considering the year that it was constructed. The joinery and craftsmanship are amazing.
This home is a magnificent treasure from the past, and unfortunately, so is this type of construction. It has been lost to history. Cost prohibitive, and lacking the materials, we are forced to enjoy these magnificent construction methods in surviving historic structures. But all is not lost, there is much to be learned, and of course details that can be emulated in order to strive for presidential-like construction in our on work.