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GWB_031208_001_STITCH.JPG: Popes Creek Plantation
Look at the landscape around you. Augustine Washington's reasons for settling here in 1718 are apparent. The ground to your left is slightly elevated and well drained -- perfect for farming. Before you, Popes Creek teems with life: fish, crabs, and waterfowl. Deer and other game abound in the surrounding forests. Fresh water is abundant from numerous springs. And a mile to the northeast is the Potomac River, Augustine Washington's commercial lifeline to the world.
In an economy where crop prices fluctuated and soil was easily depleted, the acquisition of land meant security and, often, wealth. While Augustine Washington's holdings were moderate, he aspired to join Virginia's propertied elite. His success depended almost entirely upon slaves and indentured servants laboring in tobacco fields, workshops, and in the kitchen and manor house. The whole operation resembled a small village.
GWB_031208_040.JPG: The outline of the house on the right is the actual location of the George's birth house. The house on the left was built by citizen groups seeking to capitalize on the bicentennial of his birth. They did some shoddy archeology and decided that the house must have been there and then built a house that resembled other houses of the era. Archeologists today know it looks nothing like the actual house.
GWB_031208_044.JPG: George Washington's Birthplace
GWB_031208_051.JPG: The Memorial Area
GWB_031208_111.JPG: Artery of Commerce
GWB_031208_197.JPG: The Burial Ground
AAA "Gem": AAA considers this location to be a "must see" point of interest. To see pictures of other areas that AAA considers to be Gems, click here.
Wikipedia Description: George Washington Birthplace National Monument
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The George Washington Birthplace National Monument is in Westmoreland County, Virginia, United States. Originally settled by John Washington, George Washington's great-grandfather, George Washington was born here on February 22, 1732. He lived here until age four, returning later as a teenager.
At the entrance to the grounds, now maintained and operated by the National Park Service, is a Memorial Shaft obelisk of Vermont marble, which is a one-tenth scale replica of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
The George Washington Birthplace National Monument, where Popes Creek joins the Potomac River, is representative of 18th-century Virginia tobacco farms. A Memorial House with 18th century furnishings is open to visitors. The park's farm buildings, groves of trees, livestock, gardens, and crops of tobacco and wheat, represent the boyhood environment Washington knew.
In the 1600s–1700s:
George Washington's great-grandfather settled this plantation in 1657 at the original site on Bridges Creek (see map). The first section of the house in which George Washington was born was built before 1718 and enlarged by his father between 1722–1726. It was eventually further enlarged by the mid-1770s to a ten-room house, known as "Wakefield". It was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day, 1779, and never rebuilt.
Thirty-two graves of Washington family members have been found here, including George's half-brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
In the 1800s:
In 1858, the Commonwealth of Virginia acquired the property to preserve the homesite and cemetery, but the Civil War intervened. Virginia donated the land to the Federal Government in 1882.
In the 1900s:
The Wakefield National Memorial Association was formed in 1923 to restore the property. In 193O, the grounds were authorized as a U.S. National Monument and, in 1931, the Wakefield Association received a grant from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to acquire and transfer a total of 394 acres of land to the Federal government .
Since the exact appearance of the original Washington family home is not known, a Memorial House was designed by Edward Donn, Jr. representing similar buildings of the era and constructed on the approximate site in 1931. The actual location of Washington's boyhood home is adjacent to the memorial house and its foundation is outlined in the ground by crushed oyster shells.
Constructed as a memorial to George Washington in 1930–1931, the Memorial House is not an exact replica of his birthplace. Rather, it represents a typical upper class house of the period. The Memorial House is constructed of bricks handmade from local clay. It has a central hallway and four rooms on each floor, furnished in the 1730–1750 period style by the Wakefield National Memorial Association. A tea table is believed to have been in the original house. Most of the other furnishings are more than 200 years old.
The park and Memorial House were opened by the National Park Service in 1932, on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth.
The National Monument today:
In addition to the Memorial House, park facilities open to visitors include the historic birthplace home area, Kitchen House, hiking trails, and picnic grounds. In the Kitchen House, costumed re-enactors demonstrate candle- and soap-making. A Colonial Herb and Flower Garden, having plants common to Washington's time, such as thyme, sage, basil, and other herbs, flowers such as hollyhocks, forget-me-nots, and roses, as well as trees and bushes that date to Washington's time, may be viewed. The Colonial Living Farm, with a barn and pasture, raises livestock, poultry, and crops of the 18th century variety, using farming methods common then.
Visitors may also tour the Washington family Burial Ground, which contain the graves of 32 members of the Washington family, including George Washington's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Replicas of two original gravestones, along with five memorial tablets placed here in the 1930s, may be viewed.
The Visitors' Center contains artifacts recovered from the burned-down Washington house, such as those pictured at right (clockwise, from right): a bowl, clay figurine, wine bottle seal belonging to Augustine Washington, wine bottle, and keyhole plate.
A 15-minute film depicting Washington family life is shown in a theater at the Visitors' Center.
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