Sunday, July 23, 2017

Home of the nation's first president
has a spectacular view of Potomac River

For my posts on visits to the Virginia homes of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and James Madison, I made a point to lead the post with tightly cropped shots of the main homestead. But I had a dilemma when trying to decide how to lead with my post about George Washington's Mount Vernon, which I visited on May 18.

I could fall into the pattern employed for posts about the other presidential plantations I visited and go with a tight shot of the front. I could change course and get a shot of the side of the home facing the Potomac River. Or I could lead with a shot of Washington's view of the river from the backside porch (Because of the spectacular river view, I imagine some might even consider this side "the front").

Well, you can see what I chose -- a long-range view of the "front" side, something visitors behold when they approach the grounds after wading through the hall of exhibits at the welcome center.

Don't worry; I'll show other perspectives before this post concludes, including all the ones mentioned above. I think the ideal initial look would be the one used on the front page of the home's website (see link in the first paragraph). Alas, that was an aerial shot of the river side, which includes its two portico wings, and I had no access to a helicopter or drone to grab such a perspective!

Mount Vernon is a short jaunt from the nation's capital, but Washington didn't have the opportunity to indulge that commute. Although the new capital was established in Washington D.C. in 1790, the White House wasn't available for occupation until 1800, when John Adams was president. So during the construction years of 1791-1800, the first president began his first term using executive offices in New York City briefly before moving to Philadelphia, where he spent the remainder of his time in office.

After his two terms as president ended in March 1797, Washington had only two and a half years to spend at Mount Vernon. He never saw the 19th century, dying on Dec. 14, 1799, at the age of 67.

As usual, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is particularly useful if you access the blog using a mobile device. Click on the link in this sentence to view a full gallery of the images I made from my visit to Mount Vernon.

Photo geek stuff: I shot all of my photos with my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens equipped with a B+W polarizing filter. I bracketed all compositions for three exposures to allow for melding in high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing, and I believe all of the images in this post were treated that way.

The river side of Mount Vernon (above), where most visitors made a point to sit on the porch and soak in the vista overlooking the Potomac River (below) that George and Martha Washington enjoyed. 

Above: A tighter crop of the front side of Mount Vernon, with the portico wings leading to side buildings. 

Above and below: Example of two exhibits in the welcome center area of the grounds.

Above, a composition juxtaposing the foreground cart, located at the fringe of the landscaped area of the grounds with the bridged entrance to Mount Vernon's forested area in the background. Below, a shot taken during the quarter-mile walk along the trail inside the forest.  

The distinguished 16-sided barn at the end of the forest trail, which is not far from a lower access to the Potomac River (below). 

George and Martha Washington are buried in the mausoleum above. Visitors can get as close and the iron bars, which I did to capture the photo of the first president's tomb below. 

Before the mausoleum was constructed, the Washingtons' remains were entombed in this vaulted area not far from the newer mausoleum.

Above: One of many out buildings on the grounds not far from the main manor. 

A view of the right front portico and side buildings (above) and a detail shot of the cupola and weather vane atop the manor. 

Views of the right side portico from opposite sides. The one above is from the river side, looking toward the front. The one below is from the front, looking toward the river. 

The entrance to Mount Vernon's garden (above), followed below by photos taken throughout the garden.

Next up: Barboursville Winery

Previous posts in this East Coast swing series:

James Madison's Montpelier

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