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Archive for July, 2009

July 30, 2009

Chez Washington

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alice1Renowned chef and trend-setter Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in California visited the estate last month, touring the gardens with Dean Norton, Mount Vernon’s own “plants guru,” and enjoying a luncheon at the Mount Vernon Inn that was at least 75 percent “homegrown.” (Our chef’s own chickens volunteered the eggs for a terrific quiche, with a cornmeal crust straight from the gristmill, and vegetables from Mount Vernon’s own gardens.) Chef Waters’ next stop was a meeting with President Obama’s chef, where she pitched an organic relationship between Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the White House. It’s only fair that the Education Department will get to taste test the recipes for educational and historical relevance…

Category: George Washington in Popular Culture

July 30, 2009

Love & War at Mount Vernon

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dilapidated-mvMany visitors and GWW readers do not know that Mount Vernon is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Fifty years after Washington’s death, a group of women banded together to raise money and purchase Mount Vernon in order to preserve it for future generations (as you can see from the picture on the left, it was in pretty sorry shape- there was even an old ship mast holding up one end of the piazza). One of these brave women was Sarah Cornelia Tracy, a secretary to the regent, Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina.

sarah-tracy-herbert-mvlaAs the Civil War was descending on the nation, Sarah Tracy (and her sister as chaperone) moved into Mount Vernon to protect the estate and ensure absolute neutrality. She was left with little money, a crumbling house, and rumors swirling that Washington’s body had been removed from the tomb to the mountains of Virginia. At one point, she braved barricades, destroyed roads, and a night in a commandeered house, for promises of neutrality and supplies from General McClellan. For eight years, she served as doctor and manager at Mount Vernon while selling flowers, produce, and jewelry she made out of coffee beans in order to raise money. The Ladies Association also appointed a Superintendent to care for the estate, Upton Herbert, who was trapped at Mount Vernon through the war- as a Southerner he could not go to Alexandria, which was being held by Federal forces, and he could not go into Virginia without being conscripted into the Confederate forces. After Miss Tracy finally resigned in 1868, she married Mr. Herbert and they finally passed on the care of George Washington’s home to make their own home together in Burke, Va. More information about the preservation and archaeology of Mount Vernon can be found on our website.

Category: Research/Lectures

July 23, 2009

Name Our Children’s Website Contest

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housecartoonDrumroll please… It’s time for the first ever official GWW contest! That’s right- we need a name for our new children’s website and who better to ask than the very teachers that will be using it this fall. The website will feature a 3-D virtual Mount Vernon estate that the player can explore while searching for objects and meeting the Washingtons, their grandchildren Nelly and Washy, Dr. Craik, Billy Lee, and many of the other people who lived and worked here. Two features of the game will be Harpsichord Hero (just like Guitar Hero except a bit more historic) and Bombarding Yorktown, where the player will help General Washington blow the British fortifications to bits (in a non-bloody way, of course).

Now for such an amazing online experience, we need a name that appeals to 5-year olds, 13-year olds, and 53-year olds. Prior suggestions have been “George Washington Rocks!,” “Washington’s World,” “Simulation Plantation,” “Tons of Fun with Washington,” and “Wii-shington.” Chime in if you like any of these, but if you have a new idea for a name, let us know! If we pick your name, we will send you a basket of our award-winning DVDs, curriculum kits, and teaching resources and provide one free videoconference of your choice this school year. The contest will end next week on July 31st (UPDATE: Deadline extended to August 8th!). And keep an eye out for the premiere of Harpsichord Hero next month only on GWW!

Category: Classroom Connections, George Washington in Popular Culture

July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day!

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bastille-key-caseYes, GWW did not have a Happy Independence Day blog post a couple weeks ago (due to the Education staff happily being too busy eating hot dogs that day), so to make up for it we will instead celebrate French independence. There are actually many U.S. cities that celebrate Bastille Day in an official capacity- Milwaukee’s 4-day celebration includes its own “Storming of the Bastille” and a 43 foot replica Eiffel Tower (not sure how that fits in with the Bastille storming…) and Philadelphia’s celebration is held at the historic Eastern State Penitentiary where Marie Antoinette throws pastries at a French militia (we assume this is a nod to “let them eat cake”?).

If you would like to come celebrate Bastille Day here at Mount Vernon, that is entirely possible since there is actually a real key to the Bastille in the Central Passage of the mansion itself! The Marquis de Lafayette, captain of the National Guard of Paris at the time, sent George Washington a key to the notorious French prison, which he placed in a glass case on the wall. The key still hangs there, with a drawing of the Bastille, also sent along by Lafayette, hanging below.

Category: George Washington

July 2, 2009

Live from Mount Vernon!

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img_0597This past Saturday and Monday, a group of students in Tammy Parks’ Broadcast Journalism class did a live videoconference into the NECC conference in Washington, D.C. from the front lawn of Mount Vernon. Traveling by van all the way from Howe, Oklahoma, these immensely talented students, their teacher, and their superintendent, had only one day to tour Mount Vernon, put together a script for their first broadcast early the next morning, and set up the Tandberg satellite truck. It became quickly apparent that these students were pros, especially since their previous broadcasts have won awards and been featured in the news. Bright and early on Saturday morning, the students both produced and starred in a videoconference into CILC’s conference presentation, interacting live with the teachers attending the session. Throughout the day on Monday, the students broadcast into Tandberg’s booth at the conference, introducing teachers to Billy Lee and Dr. Craik, two of Mount Vernon’s first person interpreters. If you would like to read about their journey across the country and their experiences at Mount Vernon, you can find Mrs. Park’s class on Facebook at Cle Live at Hps. We look forward to meeting these amazing students again, whether in person at Mount Vernon or via videoconference from Oklahoma!

Category: Teacher Resources

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Portraits in Schools

Kids holding George Washington Portrait

Mount Vernon recently invited K-12 schools nationwide to request framed portraits of George Washington to display in a respectful, prominent place.

The response was overwhelming: thousands of schools submitted letters! Along with the portrait, schools received curriculum materials to help explore our first president’s contributions.

Where has George Washington gone back to school? Click here to see!

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