10.07.2017

Exploring Georgetown and Tudor Place


We are still on the first day, September 8th. After our tour of Mount Vernon, we visited the gift shops where I was tempted to buy about ten books and we then ate vegetarian burgers at the Mount Vernon food court. Sometime later we began our drive to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. I've always heard so many lovely things about this neighborhood. It was as quaint as I had imagined it to be. The homes were as alluring as they were colorful. We explored the shops, including a bookshop, and enjoyed our stroll in the neighborhood.


We eventually found our way to Tudor Place after stopping to smell the roses, as they say, a few too many times. We were several minutes late to our tour, and it began without us, but once we got there the woman who greeted us allowed Lea and I to join the rest of the group. What I liked about this tour was that there were only five us with the tour guide; Lea, myself, and three other girls. It was much more intimate than the tour at Mount Vernon and we got to see much more of the home up close and personal.

Tudor Place was once the home of Martha Washington's granddaughter, Martha Parke Custis Peter, who was born a year and a half after America's Declaration of Independence inside the Blue Room at Mount Vernon. This room was under reconstruction during our tour of Mount Vernon earlier in the day so we were unable to see it. Martha Parke Custis Peter, who went by the nickname "Patty", was said to have been particularly fond, proud even, of her step-grandfather George Washington. In 1795, the seventeen-year-old Patty requested a miniature portrait of her step-grandfather as a wedding gift. George Washington fulfilled this request. Patty was also noted for being politically outspoken, she was a staunch Federalist.

After her step-grandfather's death in 1799, she inherited 1/32 of George Washington's estate, along with $8,000 which was used to purchase the land in Georgetown where Tudor Place was established. The Peters appointed Dr. William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol, to design their home. After the death of her grandmother, Martha Washington, in 1702, the Peters purchased many items of Mount Vernon in order to preserve the Washington legacy. Patty's husband, Thomas Peter, was left as an executor of Martha Washington's estate. Patty also inherited objects from her grandmother, including a writing desk in which she found two letters written by George Washington to his wife. These letters are said to have been accidentally missed by the former First Lady as she had burned all of the correspondence with her husband after his death.


FIVE FACTS ABOUT TUDOR PLACE:

1 | Marquis de Lafayette visited Tudor Place in October of 1824.

2 | The eight children of Martha and Thomas Peter were raised in the mansion.

3 | Tudor Place was home to the Peter family for six generations.

4 | The last owner, Armistead Peter III (1896-1983), arranged for Tudor Place's preservation as a museum.

5 | Tudor Place is home to the second largest collection of items belonging to the Washington family.


Touring the Tudor Place is an absolute must if you are ever in Washington D.C. The mansion itself is a history timeline of America's politics, technology, social organization, industrial production, and culture. With each room we visited and discussed, we were able to grasp different periods of transition in American history.

CHARLENE ZALE

9.30.2017

George Washington's Mount Vernon


The first half of our first day in Virginia we visited Mount Vernon. This was on September 8th. The roads that led us there from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport were unlike the ones in Florida. There were so many trees, or rather forests, that lined each side of the long winding roads. There were beautiful stone bridges we drove under, little hills, and streams. Upon our arrival to George Washington's estate, Lea and I noticed how blue the skies were. The colors seemed much more vivid, it was like stepping into another world. We seemed so far removed. It was such a contrast from what Florida was experiencing in that moment; everything was grey back home. The weather was stunning in Virginia: cool and brisk. Autumn was on its way. It's not a thing any person living there would mention, I'm almost sure of it, but Lea and I are Florida girls. We don't experience that. We don't witness the green leaves turn nor mornings with soft winds. It rains almost every day in Florida during the summer, and the heat stays intact well into autumn. We were delighted to feel and experience the coming of autumn. 


When we first walked up the steps into admissions, our bags were checked and our tickets were taken. It was a little museum with little-known facts about our first President, a gift shop, and some art. Soon after we stepped into a theatre where a short film was presented to us about Washington and his beloved home. Once the film finished, we left with the others and walked outside where we got our first glimpse of the mansion. We met with our tour guide under a large canopy tent. No photographs were to be taken inside the mansion, but photographs were allowed on the grounds. I took full advantage of this. Once we were inside the home, we were met with colorful walls which were filled with art and portraits of men from the Enlightenment Era. The colorful walls were meant to display a person's wealth. A piece of the French Revolution was found in Mount Vernon in the form of a key which belonged to the Bastille prison. It hung behind a little glass display in the central passage of the mansion. Marquis de Lafayette gifted it to George Washington. Of everything I learned during the tour, this one sparked my curiosity the most.

During our tour, there was also discussion about how Mount Vernon was used as a "bed and breakfast". Truth is there were no real hotels during his time, but travelers would often stop at the mansion where they would spend nights and receive meals. George Washington was described as a hospitable Virginian, he once described his home as a "well-resorted tavern". His bedroom, the one he shared with his wife Martha, had an entry from the back which he used when he wanted some privacy away from the guests. We saw his bedchambers, the place where he gave his last breath on December 14, 1799. Martha Washington moved out of that bedroom and moved to another room on the third floor after his death. She would die two and a half years after her husband. After the tour, we explored the grounds. We saw his gardens, stepped into his kitchen, and even got to see his tomb. His wife was laid to rest to the left of him.


CHARLENE ZALE