You must set your browser to enable Javascript in order to access certain functions of this site, including the purchase of tickets.

Slave Quarters

Mount Vernon's slaves lived on the farms on which they worked. The housing at the outlying farms was considerably rougher than the Mansion House farm quarters. Slave cabins on outlying farms had wooden chimneys chinked with clay, wooden shutters instead of window glass, and were made of logs daubed with mud. Most cabins housed two families, but smaller cabins housed only one. None of the slave cabins survive today. However, there is an existing photograph from the early 20th century that is believed to be a picture of a Mount Vernon slave quarter. This photograph was used as the basis for the reconstruction of the Slave Cabin on Mount Vernon’s present-day Pioneer Farmer site. The cabins were very crude by modern standards, with very little furniture, dirt floors, no privacy, and lots of smoke from the drafty chimneys. Much of what we know about the living conditions of Mount Vernon's slaves is due to Julian Niemcewicz, a Polish visitor to the estate in 1798, who wrote a vivid account of the quarters in his diary. Mount Vernon interprets the slave cabin as home to Scilla, who lived on Dogue Run Farm with her six children. Her husband, Slammin' Joe, lived and worked at the Mansion House farm and usually would have only seen his family on Saturday evenings and Sundays.

The slaves living at the Mansion House farm were housed in communal quarters. A structure known as the House for Families was used until 1792, when it was replaced by communal quarters in the Greenhouse complex. Archaeologists excavating the site 200 years later uncovered many objects, which helped Mount Vernon determine how slaves in the House for Families lived. Some slaves lived above their place of work, such as the kitchen or carpentry shop. Although we know a great deal about many of the slaves living on the estate, the records tell us very little about how the living spaces were assigned or who inhabited them.