Happy Friday! I do hope you're all enjoying reading all of this. If you enjoy it half as much as I'm enjoying gathering photos and info, I'll consider it a success.
Today's numbers are:
20 – Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon was the plantation home of George Washington and his wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. The estate is situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia, near Alexandria, across from Prince George’s County, Maryland. The Washington family had owned land in the area since the time of Washington’s great-grandfather in 1674.
The mansion is built of wood in loose Palladian style, and was constructed by George Washington in stages between 1758 and 1778. It occupies the side of an earlier, smaller house built by Washington’s father sometime between 1726 and 1735. It remained Washington’s country home for the rest of his life.
The present house was built in phases from 1758, by an unknown architect. This staggered and unplanned evolution is indicated by the off-center main door, which would once have been central to an earlier façade. The principal block, dating from 1758, is a two-storied corps de logis(I) flanked by two single-story secondary wings, built in 1775. These secondary wings, which house the servant halls on the northern side and the kitchen on the southern side, are connected to the corps de logis(i) by symmetrical, quadrant colonnades, built in 1778. The completion of the colonnades cemented the classical Palladian arrangement of the complex and formed a distinct cour d’honneur, known at Mount Vernon as Mansion Circle, and giving the house its imposing perspective.
The buildings have hipped roofs with dormers. In addition to its second story, the importance of the corps de logis Is further emphasized by two large chimneys, and by a cupola surmounting the center of the house. This octagonal focal point has a short spire topped by a gilded dove of peace.
The rooms at Mount Vernon have mostly been restored to their appearance at the time of George and Martha Washington’s occupancy. These rooms include Washington’s study, two dining rooms, the West Parlour, the Front Parlour, the kitchen, and some bedrooms. The interior design follows the classical concept of the exterior, but owing to the piecemeal evolution of the mansion, the internal architecture features are not consistently faithful to one specific period of the 18th century revival of classical architecture.
The gardens and grounds contain English boxwoods, taken from cuttings sent by Major General Henry Lee (a Governor of Virginia and the father of Robert E. Lee), which were planted in 1786 by George Washington and now crowd the entry path. A carriage road skirts a grassy bowling green to approach the mansion entrance. To each side of the green is a garden, contained by a brick wall. These gardens grew the household’s vegetables, fruit and other perishable items for consumption.
On December 18, 1799, George Washington’s funeral was held at Mount Vernon, where his body was interred. In accordance with his will, Washington was entombed in a family crypt he had built upon first inheriting the estate. It was in disrepair by 1799, so Washington’s will also requested that a new, larger tomb be built. This was not executed until 1831, the centennial of his birth. The need for a new tomb was confirmed by an unsuccessful attempt was made to steal his body. Washington’s remains were finally moved on October 7, 1837, along with those of his wife, Martha, to the new tomb. Other members of the Washington family are interred in an inner vault, behind the vestibule containing the sarcophagi of George and Martha Washington.
Upon Martha’s death in 1802, Mount Vernon was passed to George’s nephew, Bushrod Washington. Bushrod was unable to support the upkeep of the mansion on the proceeds from the property and his salary. After his death, ownership passed through a series of relatives who lacked either the will or the means to maintain the property. George Washington’s great-grandnephew, John Augustine Washington, acquired the estate in 1829, and he sold the mansion and a portion of the land to the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The estate served as neutral ground for both sides during the American Civil War. The mansion has been fully restored by the Association, independent of the US Government, with no tax dollars expended to support the 500-acre estate, its educational programs, or activities.
Since first opening to the paying public in 1860, the estate has received more than 80 million visitors. In addition to the mansion, visitors can see original and reconstructed outbuildings and barns, an operational blacksmith shop, and the Pioneer Farm. If you’re unable to visit, the official website has a virtual tour, available here: http://www.mountvernon.org/site/virtual-tour/
28 – Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
A species of swallowtail butterfly native to eastern North America, the Tiger Swallowtail (or Eastern tiger swallowtail), is one of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern United States. It flies from spring to fall, during which it produces two to three broods. The male is yellow with four black “tiger stripes” on each fore wing. Females can be either yellow or black; the yellow morph is similar to the male, but with a conspicuous band of blue spots along the hindwing, while the dark morph is almost completely black.
The first known drawing of a North American butterfly was that of an Eastern tiger swallowtail, drawn by John White in 1587.
The Eastern tiger swallowtail is found in the eastern United states from southern Vermont to Florida west to eastern Texas and the Great Plains. It is common throughout its range, though rarely seen in southern Florida. In 1932 a single specimen was collected in County Wicklow, Ireland.
The species can be found anywhere deciduous forests occur. Common habitats include woodlands, fields, rivers, creeks, roadsides, and gardens. It will stray into urban parks and city yards. Adults are seen from spring to fall, the exact date varying depending on the location. It is the state butterfly of Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and is the state insect of Virginia.
The butterflies are active during the day and are usually solitary. Adults are known to fly high above the ground. They use a wide range of food sources, most preferring nectar on sturdy plants with red or pink flowers.