The Copper and Slate Puzzle

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

The Copper and Slate Puzzle

At Mount Vernon, the Architecture and Archaeology teams often work together to solve puzzles. While excavating the North Grove (in preparation for the Mansion Revitalization Project), archaeologists found a significant number of copper sheets and slate fragments. The slate fragment pictured above has a nail hole, which is characteristic of roofing…


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Layers of History

Monday, March 04, 2024

Layers of History

As the Archaeology team continued excavations north of the piazza (in preparation for the Mansion Revitalization Project), they uncovered a fascinating record of the Mansion’s evolution over time. This “stratigraphic sequence” (seen below) details the construction history of the Mansion and adjacent landscape—including the addition of the New Room and…


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Dry Well Assessment

Monday, February 19, 2024

Dry Well Assessment

In 1785, George Washington had a dry well built in the Mansion cellar. A large cylindrical pit, the 22-foot-deep dry well was built to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the year, allowing for the storage of ice harvested from the Potomac River by enslaved workers. This dry well, however, ultimately proved unsatisfactory to Washington, who…


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Found on the Ground

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Found on the Ground

While processing artifacts recovered from the North Grove excavation (in preparation for the Mansion Revitalization Project), archaeological lab analysts made an interesting discovery: a piece of 18th-century window glass etched with a cursive "N," excavated about 15 feet northwest of the New Room's Venetian window. Notably, other signatures etched…


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Ready, Set, Gown

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Ready, Set, Gown

Staff and volunteers attempt to create a garment in two days. Can they stitch in time? Mount Vernon’s historical costumer, Kathrin Breitt Brown, and journeywoman mantua maker, Brooke Welborn of the Burnley & Trowbridge Co., created two 18th-century gowns during two “Gown in a Weekend” public events held in the spring of 2023. From draping and cutting…


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Christmas with the Washingtons

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Christmas with the Washingtons

As it does every year, Mount Vernon’s team has brought some wintertime changes to the Mansion to mark the holiday season. Christmas was primarily a religious holiday in 18th-century Virginia, but then, as now, it was also a festive occasion marked by visits between friends and relatives, parties, and public assemblies. The Washingtons' holiday season…


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Archaeology Rediscovers the “Old Necessary”

Monday, September 30, 2019

Archaeology Rediscovers the “Old Necessary”

Mount Vernon archaeologists have relocated a Washington-era building while conducting an archaeological survey on the east lawn. In late May 1796, George Washington wrote from the presidential residence in Philadelphia to his farm manager at Mount Vernon, “I have several times spoke concerning a necessary for the Quarter People, at Mansion house . …


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Dove of Peace Weathervane Restoration

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Dove of Peace Weathervane Restoration

With the installation of the scaffolding on the cupola, Collections Conservator Linda Landry had the opportunity to examine the condition of the replica Dove of Peace weathervane. She determined that there was a considerable amount of rust and corrosion on the piece, particularly in areas where copper and iron meet. In a short amount of time, she put…


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West Front Carpentry Work

Monday, July 08, 2019

West Front Carpentry Work

Paint removal of the west front of the Mansion was completed on June 7. Since then, our team of preservation carpenters has been hard at work completing wood repairs on the top levels of the scaffolding. Luckily, the siding is in good condition, thanks in part to the sand-painted coating that has provided protection over the years. At the same time…


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