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Handmade from Historic Wood
Browse our collection of unique kitchenware, bowls, ornaments, and more-- handcrafted from the wood of the pecan tree, swamp oak, and other historic trees at Mount Vernon.
The pecan tree that used to stand next to the Mansion was planted sometime in the 1860s, approximately sixty years after Washington's death.
In late 2013, we made the decision to take down the pecan tree. In making this difficult decision, we clearly weighed the risks of the tree damaging the Mansion, the centerpiece of George Washington's estate, against the aesthetic value of this majestic specimen. It was removed in January 2014.
Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture at George Washington's Mount Vernon, discusses the decision to remove a large pecan tree from next to the historic Mansion.
As the caretakers for George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon's horticultural team and professional arborists keep a watchful eye on all trees growing on the grounds. We apply best practices to assure healthy specimens and to extend the life of our trees. Estate horticulturists regularly monitor tree health, often using binoculars to assess tree conditions and working quickly to address any concerns. Many of the trees in the historic area, including those planted by Washington himself, are comprehensively examined annually by arborists from Bartlett Tree Experts, Mount Vernon's partner in tree care.
HOW BIG WAS THE TREE?
The tree stood approximately 145 feet tall. Its wood weighs an estimated 50 tons.
HOW OLD WAS THE TREE? DID GEORGE WASHINGTON PLANT IT?
George Washington did not plant this tree. In fact, he didn't have any trees of this size close to his home. We believe the pecan tree was planted more than 60 years after Washington passed away, around 1860, making it an estimated 154 years old. This date has been determined by looking at photographic records. The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association opened the property to the public in 1860, and there is no information in the Association's early records about the origins of this tree.
HOW MANY TREES EXIST AT MOUNT VERNON TODAY? HOW MANY OF THOSE ARE ORIGINAL WASHINGTON TREES?
Within the historic footprint of Mount Vernon (surrounding the Mansion and outbuildings), there are more than 100 trees, including six planted under Washington's direction or already in existence during his lifetime. More than 1,000 additional trees are planted near the modern buildings. Thousands of trees can be found in the forest that surrounds the estate. In the outlying areas of the estate, Mount Vernon horticulturists and foresters have identified eight additional trees that date to the 18th century. The oldest of these trees, a chestnut oak, predates 1683. The search continues for more original trees.
WERE PECAN TREES PLANTED AT MOUNT VERNON DURING WASHINGTON'S LIFETIME?
We know from Washington's records that he received pecan nuts from Philadelphia and planted them in March 1775. According to "A List of Ornamental Trees and Shrubs Noted in the Writings and Diaries of George Washington", in May 1786, he planted more pecans in the botanical garden. Later, while in Philadelphia, he sent nuts for planting at Mount Vernon in 1787, and again in 1794 and 1795. A quantity of pecan nuts was delivered to the Alexandria post office from Philadelphia by Thomas Jefferson in January 1794 at Washington's request. The gardener at Mount Vernon was instructed to plant them in a nursery. There is no further mention of pecan trees in the landscape of Mount Vernon.
WILL YOU PLANT AN ADDITIONAL PECAN TREE TO REPLACE THE TREE?
We will plant additional trees, but in keeping with our mission to represent the estate as it existed during Washington's time, we will not plant pecan trees in this area. Washington planted pecan trees in a nursery, but there is no further mention of those young trees being transplanted to other areas within the landscape.
Shot by Patrick Teague