Location: Washington’s Birthplace, Virginia
Webpage: National Park
General Description: George Washington’s great-grandfather, John Washington, settled along Bridges Creek in 1657 creating a small tobacco farm. The family acquired additional acres, including land along Popes Creek where the house that George Washington was born in was built around 1718. It was enlarged by his father, Augustine Washington in 1722-1726. George Washington was born in 1732 and lived at this location for only three years before the family moved to their plantation at Mount Vernon. Irregardless of the time, this was our first President’s birthplace and has been, in effect, a shrine when the Commonwealth of Virginia acquired the property in 1858 to preserve the homesite and cemetery where George’s half brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather are buried. Since the original home was destroyed in a fire and flood on Christmas Day in 1799, a replica representing similar buildings from the time was constructed in 1931 in time for the 100th birthday celebrations near the original site. Since then, archeological evidence has located the original house which is much smaller than this replica. The replica has been filled with furnishings from the time period and is open for tours. Along with the grounds that include kitchen and tobacco barn is a demonstration farm using 1700 technologies.
1) The Visitor Center is a lovely building set off to the side of the farm and along with a movie has a few exhibits about the history of the Washington family leading up to his birth. Unfortunately the movie was having technical difficulties while we were there so I cannot comment on it.
2) The grounds surrounding the house are beautiful with an old cedar grove on the point extending out into Popes Creek from which you can see the Potomac River a short distance away.
3) There is also a garden area that is half a formal memorial garden and half an herb garden. The outbuildings were not open while we were there, but we did walk around the barns and animal pens.
4) The replica house is an historic building in its rights since it was built in 1931, even though it is not the original. The tour consisted of a Park Ranger opening the door and answering questions, so you were on your own to take a look in each of the rooms. We understood that all the furniture was from the time period, however, only the tea table is believed to have been in the original home.
5) The outline of the original home is laid out with crushed oyster shells on the ground and you can see it is quite a bit smaller than their replica.
6) A short drive from the homesite you can visit the cemetery where George Washington’s ancestors are buried and take a look at the wharf on the Potomac River which where all trade occurred in the 1700s.
7) We also took a nature hike through the woods and marshes around the homesite where they have a number of interpretive signs giving hints of the many uses made of the forest. I found it interesting that at the time hogs were allowed to run wild on the property to be harvested during the winter months.