Behind the Scenes
Describing Mount Vernon as "one of my favorite places in the world," the first lady of American lifestyles took a page from the playbook of Julius Caesar in her visit to Washington’s estate. She came, she saw, she conquered.
In a timespan of eight hours, Martha Stewart and her talented team of television professionals filmed almost every aspect of George Washington’s estate. From Washington’s fantastic fan chair in the study, to the seed pods on top of his grandest tulip poplar, Martha Stewart shone the spotlight on Washington’s vast talents as an architect, a horticulturist, a farmer, and a gracious host.
What began as three brief segments soon blossomed into an hour-long television special devoted exclusively to Mount Vernon. The program premiered in most parts of the nation on November 9, 2001, on the CBS network.
Consulting the Experts
Ms. Stewart called upon a host of Mount Vernon experts as she traveled the estate. Curator Carol Borchert gave an enlightening tour of the Mansion, Horticulturist Dean Norton focused on Washington’s green thumb, and Dennis Pogue, Associate Director of Mount Vernon for Preservation, talked about Washington’s innovative approach to agriculture and his invention of a famous 16-sided barn.
Jeff Myers, Project Director of the America Forests Historic Trees program, convinced Ms. Stewart to ride with him in a cherry picker to the top of Washington’s oldest tulip popular tree, in search of seeds. His tips on getting the seeds to sprout provided just the kind of “how-to” advice that Stewart fans relish.
“We have dealt with a lot of television crews, but it is hard not to be impressed by the expertise and professionalism of Martha Stewart and her team,” noted Media Associate Audra Acey. “In fact, she seems to have several things in common with George Washington himself. She starts work at the crack of dawn, she wastes very little time, she covers a tremendous amount of ground—and the final product reflects a great deal of talent.”