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Behind-the-Scenes: Winter at Mount Vernon

Visitation at Mount Vernon during the winter months may slow down, but that doesn’t mean our staff is resting on our laurels. We interviewed colleagues around the Estate to find out what they have been working on during the off-season.

Melanie Welles, Greenhouse Grower:
“We’ve been busy starting vegetables and flowers to be planted on the estate and for retail sales. In the last few weeks my assistant, Joel King, and I have started close to 4,000 plants from seeds, transplanted 500 snapdragons, and potted up 100 sago palms and 400 boxwoods.”

Joe Sliger, Director of Operations and Maintenance:
“We are trying to get a new roof on the Presidents house and I sure hope the weather cooperates this week so we can finish it. At the Wharf, our very popular Osprey have lost the branch at the top of the tree that holds their nest every year. Our Horticulturist, Dean Norton, and I are brainstorming this week to see if we can add something to the tree to encourage them to return. Time to rent a lift!”

Martha Washington:
“With not as much company as when the weather is good I have been mending and replenishing linens, as well as taking stock of what clothes will be needed for the Spring. I have also been busy making poultices for the chin cough that has been running through the house.”

Esther White, Director of Historic Preservation and Research:
“Mount Vernon’s Preservation Division has been getting the restoration of the New Room underway. The archeologists have conducted an archeological survey in advance of some new utility work and getting the Archaeological Collections Online website populated. We’re processing artifacts from the summer excavation and planning for this summer’s excavation and college field school which will be outside the kitchen.”

Tom Plott, Manager for Character Interpretation:
“Our character interpreters—who portray various people from Washington’s World and who knew the General best—have been researching historical sources, preparing scripts, and practicing engaging new performances for George Washington’s Birthday Celebration February 16-18.”

Yvonne Jones, Administrative Assistant for the Education Department:
“It’s been a busy few months as over 300 requests for the George Washington Portrait Program have been sent in. These schools will be receiving their beautifully framed replica of Rembrandt Peale’s Porthole Portrait of George Washington, and Celebration Kits with lesson plans and activities this spring.”

Joe Day, Estate Gardner:
“I’ve been busy working with several team members thinning the Upper Garden boxwood parterres, keeping paths raked, composting garden beds, and keeping them clean and weeded.”

Carrie Uffelman, Livestock Handler :
“We have been busy setting up the lambing shed and taking inventory of our supplies in preparation for March lambs. This winter, we have caught up on chores like cleaning out the animal pens. We have also been working the horses in preparation for the Old Town Alexandria Birthday Parade.”

Michael Plumb, Assistant Manager for Program Development for the Department of History Interpretation:
“The History Interpreters have been preparing a new walking tour, ‘Women of Mount Vernon,’ to coincide with National Women’s History Month in March. The tour will highlight the lives and contribution of the women who were integral to the rich history and enduring preservation of Mount Vernon.”

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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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