On August 28th, the Fall 2020 Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program (WHIP) participants had the privilege of visiting Mount Vernon, the former residence of first President of the United States, George Washington.
All 17 WHIP students were given a tour of the Mount Vernon mansion. On the first floor, students encountered rooms modeled in the neoclassical style. In the central passageway of the house, students got to see the Key of the Bastille – given to Washington by Marquis de Lafayette, displayed in a glass case right next to the house’s 261-year-old wooden staircase.
In addition to exploring the mansion, students toured the surrounding grounds of the estate, including the gravesites of both Washington and his former slaves. Washington is buried alongside his wife, Martha.
“Mount Vernon is a place to… pay your respects both to the people who worked on the land and to George Washington himself,” Senior Emma Eisenman said. She was particularly struck by the elegant design of Washington’s grave.
“It’s a tomb that he designed while he was still alive, so it’s pretty interesting to know that a person is buried in a spot they had thought about and picked out before their death.”
Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia, the current estate consists of 500 acres. During Washington’s lifetime, however, Mount Vernon encompassed 8,000 acres—on which tobacco, wheat, corn, and other cash crops were planted. Students also explored the various gardens across the estate, as well as the Pioneer Farm, a replica of 18th-century farming practices.
Junior Jack Rowe, a George Washington Fellow, was thankful to take the trip to Mount Vernon.
“It was neat yet oddly humbling to see the actual grounds and walls in which the father of our country once walked and lived,” Rowe said. “It brought a realism to what is usually a mythical figure.”