The Washington Estate: Mount Vernon Quiz



By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

You may know it was the home of the father of our country, but what else do you know about Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington's mansion in Virginia? Take our quiz to find out.

What river does Mount Vernon sit on?

The home is literally on a small mountain — a mount, as it were — along the Potomac River in Virginia.


How many rooms does the mansion have?

The mansion began life under George Washington's father Augustine as a farmhouse in 1735. Washington acquired it in 1754 and added on until it reached 21 rooms, 2 1/2 stories and 11,028 square feet (1,025 square meters).


What was the original name of Mount Vernon?

George's father Augustine built the original building in 1735 and named it Little Hunting Creek Plantation.


The name was changed in 1743. Who is Mount Vernon named for?

Lawrence Washington, George's older half brother, named it after his commanding officer Adm. Edward Vernon. Lawrence served under Vernon in the 1740s, during the War of Jenkins' Ear.


What animal sits atop the cupola on the mansion's weathervane?

George Washington ordered the weather vane in 1787 when he presided over the Constitutional Convention. He asked for "a bird with an olive branch in its mouth."


What is the siding on the mansion made of?

The yellow pine was rusticated in 1758 to make it appear to be stone. This is done by beveling the edges of the boards to look like blocks of stone and throwing sand onto the wet paint to give it a rough texture.


George Washington designed one of the mansion's most iconic features — something that wasn't traditionally seen on private homes like it is today. What was it?

The two-story porch, or piazza, facing the Potomac River was an unusually grand facade for a private home in the 18th century.


True or false: The Washingtons had slaves at Mount Vernon.

At the time of George's death, more than 300 enslaved people lived and worked at Mount Vernon.


The last room added to Mount Vernon took 10 years to complete, partly due to the war and lack of men to work on the house during that time. What room was it?

Not only was it the last room added, it was the largest and grandest — the mansion's showpiece. In the New Room, Washington received important guests, displayed art and hosted large (too large for the dining room) dinner parties.


In George's day the basement wasn't used as a man cave, though Mount Vernon would have had plenty of room for one. What was in the basement?

George replaced the stone foundations with brick when he enlarged the home — and still didn't add the man cave.


One of the most popular rooms at Mount Vernon is the Nelly Custis Bedchamber. Who was Nelly?

Nelly, Martha's granddaughter from her first marriage, moved with her brother to Mount Vernon after their father died following the Battle of Yorktown.


Despite owning a mansion (plantation, really), Washington was often short of cash, with his money tied to his real estate. In fact, he had to borrow money to move to New York to live as president. How much did the move cost him?

He initially refused to be paid as president, but decided that would set a poor precedent and accepted the $25,000 annual salary.


Washington may not have had a traditional man cave in the mansion's cellar, but he carved out space in the home for washing, bathing, dressing, working and escaping the never-ending flow of friends. What is this personal space called?

The study contained bookshelves with more than 800 pamphlets, newspapers, books and maps. It also held his "fan chair." Not the chair for his admirers, but a Windsor chair with fans that created a breeze when the sitter pumped simple pedals.


How many children did George and Martha have together at Mount Vernon?

The two had no children together, but they did raise Martha's two children from her previous marriage, then raised two of her grandchildren at the mansion.


Mount Vernon was George's family home, but Martha came from wealth as well and used that wealth to ensure she was well dressed. Where did Martha often order handmade clothes and shoes from?

All the wealthy women in the New World ordered the trendiest clothes from the old country, England. Invoices show Martha had "satin pumps embroidered with gold." Her wedding shoes, still in the museum collection, were lush purple silk with sterling silver braid.


Even with the labor of about 300 enslaved African-Americans, George Washington was always looking for ways for the farm to make money. He went into a new, related business after the presidency. What was it?

The 8,000-acre (3,000-hectare) estate already grew rye, so Washington's estate manager, John Anderson from Scotland (of course), suggested distilling whiskey. A still was purchased in 1797.


Was the new business a success?

Despite Washington's misgivings — though not a teetotaler, he wasn't sure whiskey baron was a title fit for a former president — the business was a success. In 1799, the estate produced 11,000 gallons (42,000 liters) for a profit of $7,500 (about $142,000 today).


At the museum, visitors can see one set of George Washington's dentures. What were they made of?

The rumor of Washington's wooden dentures is apparently just that. The set of dentures at Mount Vernon is made of human and cow teeth and elephant ivory.


True or false: Mount Vernon is the most visited private house museum in the country.

It is often reported that Elvis' Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, is No. 1, but Mount Vernon holds the top spot, with more than 1 million visitors each year.


Martha had slaves and servants do what she called the "drudgery duties," but she performed some household tasks. What was her favorite household duty?

Martha was in charge of running of the mansion and seeing that the considerable number of visitors were fed, housed and entertained. But her favorite activity was needlework, and she produced beautiful cushions, footstools and bags that can still be seen today.


One way to show wealth at the time was to have a building that was not used often. Washington had one built in 1775. What was it?

The large and well-appointed servants' hall wasn't always used for the Washingtons' servants — it was for the use of visitors' servants. And while they had a lot of visitors, who had a lot of servants, it didn't go unremarked that having such a building was evidence of significant wealth.


When did George Washington die?

He died following a virulent throat infection on Dec. 14, 1799, in the second-floor bedroom he and Martha shared for 25 years of their 40 years together. He was 67 years old.


George and Martha were very close and looked forward to a long life together in Mount Vernon. How much longer did Martha live after George's death?

Martha closed up the bedroom where George died and moved to the third floor, taking solace in her Bible and her family as she handled the onslaught of well-wishers, before she passed away on May 22, 1802.


George received the most up-to-date medical care that his considerable fortune could provide. How did the three doctors who attended him try to cure his throat ailment just before his death?

Up-to-the-minute medical care would be appalling to folks these days who are used to reaching for an antibiotic.


George asked that he not be put into his burial vault until three days after his death. Why?

Back in the day, it wasn't as easy to tell whether someone was actually dead. George Washington didn't want to go into the ground until they were sure he took his last breath. He lay in his mahogany casket in the New Room at Mount Vernon until his funeral.


George and Martha are both buried at Mount Vernon. What is the inscription on George's tomb?

It says "I am the resurrection and the life." The other quotes are from Alexander Hamilton's tomb at Trinity Church in New York and from Maj. Gen. Henry Lee's eulogy to Washington.


How did Washington provide for his slaves in his will?

His will expressed his opposition to slavery and his wish that his slaves be emancipated following Martha's death.


Were the slaves freed?

Martha freed George's slaves (she owned many that weren't legally hers to free — long story) a year after he died, when it was feared the slaves, ready for freedom, might hasten Martha's death to achieve it.


Who inherited Mount Vernon after George Washington's death?

Martha had a life interest in the estate, but it wasn't hers to pass on. George's nephew, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, inherited it.


Following the deaths of George Washington's heirs, Mount Vernon was to be sold to the U.S. government, which refused to buy the property. What happened to Mount Vernon then?

In 1858 the organization bought the house and 200 acres (81 hectares) for $200,000 to restore and maintain it. The property became the first national historical tourist attraction.


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