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George Washington’s Original Blacksmith Shop Reconstructed
For Immediate Release
March 6, 2009
Digital images available
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203
MOUNT VERNON, Va. – For the first time in over 200 years a working blacksmith shop opens at Historic Mount Vernon beginning with a grand opening ceremony on April 1 at 11:00 a.m. During the ceremony, Mount Vernon’s blacksmiths perform the first public demonstrations at the site by shoeing a horse and creating iron nails and hooks–common tasks for plantation smiths. The reconstructed blacksmith shop was made possible through the support of the Neighborhood Friends of Mount Vernon.
The blacksmith shop has been reconstructed at the original location of Washington’s shop after years of research and archaeological excavations. The building is a careful reproduction of the type of blacksmith shop that operated at Mount Vernon during 40 years of Washington’s lifetime. Blacksmithing demonstrations will take place every day through November, giving visitors a dynamic view of 18th-century smithing by creating the same household and agricultural items that were used on Washington’s plantation.
"Blacksmiths performed an indispensable function in 18th-century America," said Dennis Pogue, Director of Preservation for Historic Mount Vernon. "Reopening the Mount Vernon shop will give our visitors the opportunity to observe that work, just as it was done in George Washington’s day."
Located approximately 200 feet from the Mansion, the blacksmith shop was as an integral component of the plantation operation. Its scale and range of activities are representative of an 18th-century Virginia country blacksmith shop. George Washington made a substantial investment in his smithing operation in 1755 soon after he took up residence at Mount Vernon, when he purchased a relatively complete set of blacksmith's tools at a cost of £10.15. At different times over the course of 45 years, Washington’s blacksmiths either were slaves or hired white craftsmen. The Mount Vernon plantation accounts include hundreds of references to the blacksmiths' activities from 1755 until Washington’s death in 1799. These references ranged from making nails and hooks, and mending pots and pans, to repairing plows and guns. It is clear that the Mount Vernon smiths undertook work for residents of the surrounding neighborhood as well as supported the plantation operation.
The blacksmith shop is included in Estate admission: $15 for adults; $7 for youth ages 6-11; and free for children five and younger.
Events, programs, and activities are subject to change.
703-780-2000; 703-799-8697 (TDD); Visit.MountVernon.org
Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.
Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE. Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.