Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Washington Family Tomb

A View Inside the
Washington Family Tomb
Mount Vernon Estate, Va.

Prior to his death in 1799, George Washington directed that a new family tomb was to be constructed on the grounds of Mount Vernon, his Virginia estate. The new family tomb was built in 1831 and the remains of George and Martha Washington were placed in the new tomb. Requests to move President Washington's sarcophagus to a chamber under the U.S. Capitol building, specifically constructed for Washington's entombment, were denied by the family following the desired wishes of Washington as laid out in his will.

As you face the entrance to the tomb - which is temporarily opened in this photo - George Washington's sarcophagus is on the right, the sarcophagus on the left is, of course, Martha Washington's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering the Veteran on Memorial Day

"The Supreme Sacrifice"
Oak Grove Cemetery
230 Playstead Road
Medford, Mass.

This statute of an American Doughboy, entitled "The Supreme Sacrifice", is dedicated to those Americans from Medford who lost their lives in the First World War. The soldier is holding his arms out as in the manner of a cross and is looking up towards the sky. Unlike most statues of this kind the soldier is not holding a weapon. The statues creator, Emilius R. Ciampa (1896-1996) was born in Italy but grew up in Boston's North End.

The bronze statue overlooks the headstones of the Medford Veterans of that long ago war, arranged in neat rows with American flags marking every grave. All of our Veterans of the First World War are gone now, just as in the not too distant future, all of the Veterans of the Second World War will also be gone. That last great war in Europe ended in May 0f 1945 and we owe the men and women who fought in those wars and have kept the peace since then a great debt. Especially those who made the supreme sacrifice.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grand Re-Opening for Hancock-Clarke House

Hancock-Clarke House
36 Hancock St.
Lexington, Mass.

The Lexington Historical Society will conduct a grand re-opening celebration for the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington on Sunday May 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The property has just undergone a year long extensive renovation. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2:00 p.m. and tours of the house will be conducted. Everyone is invited to attend.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

Mount Vernon
3200 Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, Va.

If the old saying, "home is where the heart is" is true, then George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia is certainly where his heart could be found.

Originally built in 1757 (upon the foundations of an earlier farmhouse) Mount Vernon is beautifully situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. It was given the name Mount Vernon by Washington's older half-brother Lawrence in honor of British Admiral Edward Vernon.

The mansion and the surrounding outbuildings were extensively renovated throughout Washington's life. Through inheritance, purchase and his marriage to the widower Martha Custis, George Washington eventually became the proprietor of five farms comprising some 8,000 acres of land. Washington spent much of his life overseeing all aspects of the management of his property, determining what crops to grow, hiring artisans and managers, landscaping and later in life, deciding to have a grist mill and distillery built.

Called away to serve his country in the American Revolution (1775-1783) and as the nations first President (1789-1797) Washington gratefully returned to Mount Vernon and spent his last years there. He died on December 14, 1799 after a brief illness and is buried in the family tomb on the estate alongside his wife Martha.

After his death Mount Vernon was not as ably managed and over time the mansion itself fell into disrepair and much of the property was sold off or given to family members. By the 1850's Mount Vernon was desperately in need of new ownership. The property was offered for sale to both the Federal government and the State of Virginia, both of whom declined.

Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina subsequently founded the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1853 and in 1858 the Association purchased Mount Vernon, along with 200 acres, from George Washington's heirs. Mount Vernon was given much needed repairs and was first opened to the public in 1860. Since that time George Washington's Mount Vernon has been owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association as a non-profit organization operating under the public trust.

Mount Vernon is open to the public 365 days of the year and in addition to tours of the mansion and the grounds, there are shops, a food court, restaurant, a visitors center and museum. Parking is free.