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American Mecca

When George Washington retired from the army in 1783 he returned to Mount Vernon and hoped to lead a quiet life as a farmer. Almost immediately, people flocked to see his home. After his death in 1799, visitation increased and throughout the 19th century a visit to Mount Vernon was viewed as a patriotic pilgrimage which would enhance a visitor’s character. This journey to Mount Vernon would also help strengthen the country through a greater appreciation of the patriotic values and ideas that shaped the young nation. The estate was referred to as “the Nation’s Shrine,” and “The Mecca of America.” Many of the visitors during the 19th century arrived by boat, avoiding the poor roads in the area.

With the advent of the automobile and the creation of the George Washington Parkway in the early 1930s visitation increased dramatically. By 1952 more than a million people a year visited the estate. Today, Mount Vernon remains one of the most visited places in the world. Presidents entertain here, kings and queens tour the plantation, and people from all over the world stop by to marvel at Washington’s home and grounds. Many who visit take photographs to document their journey. We have assembled some of our favorite photos of visitors to the estate on this page.

When was your first trip to Mount Vernon? Did you come with a school group, on a family vacation, or are you planning to visit sometime soon? We hope you enjoy looking at the pictures and please send us your photo and tell us a little about your visit to Mount Vernon and we'll post them on this website. Photographs and memories can be emailed to ewhite@mountvernon.org.