Mount Vernon East Front and Piazza

Saturday Postcard: Mount Vernon’s East Front

Mount Vernon’s east front, with it’s two story facade, columned piazza, iconic cupola, and expansive Potomac River view is this week’s Saturday Postcard.  In the early years, the east was the true front of the house, as people and goods primarily arrived by boat. By Washington’s later years, the west facade, where visitors arrive today, had become the primary entry to the mansion.

Mount Vernon's East Front and Piazza

Mount Vernon East Front and Piazza

On February 22nd, join hundreds of residents and tourists on a visit to Mount Vernon, free for the day in celebration of George Washington’s birthday. It’s a wonderful opportunity to revisit the beautiful Mount Vernon mansion, see re-enactors depicting George Washington and other people of his time, and wander the grounds as they are prepare for the return of spring.

The mansion at George Washington’s Mount Vernon is a beautiful testament to Washington’s thoughtful approach to creating a home that offered comfort for his family and a source of pride for a new nation. Washington personally supervised renovations of the mansion over a 45-year period.

From the hill overlooking the Potomac you can admire the mansion’s 2-story, columned piazza, which the Washington’s used as an outdoor parlor, and where George paced the stones when snow prevented walks across the grounds.

“In the 18th century, it was extremely rare to see such a grand façade on a private residence. Washington’s design for the two-story piers copies the pilasters on the exterior of the New Room’s Palladian window, although at a much greater ratio of width to height.” — MountVernon.org

You also have a clear view of the iconic cupola, topped with a dove weathervane that Washington commissioned.

Walking away from the house, check out the ha-ha wall that curves around the lawn. The sunken wall backed by a turf ditch was designed to keep livestock out without obstructing the view with fences. The open view of the Potomac must have been even more beautiful during Washington’s time, with sloops sailing up and down the busy river.

Return to the piazza and take a break on one of the reproduction Windsor chairs, just as early visitors to Mount Vernon did. On busy days, you’ll share the space with people waiting in line to move ahead to the next section of the mansion tour.

>> Find favorite activities and tips to plan your visit: Fun Things to Do at George Washington’s Estate in Mount Vernon Virginia.

Special tours and events are offered throughout the year, including popular wine and music evenings on Mount Vernon’s east front lawn, sometimes accompanied by fireworks over the Potomac. Buy tickets early if you’re timing a visit to coincide with an event, as many of them sell out every year.

This entertaining short video from our friends at Visit Fairfax, features George Washington’s physician:

It’s easy to spend a full day visiting Mount Vernon—exploring the Visitor Center and Museum, touring the Mansion, strolling around the grounds, and relaxing on Mount Vernon’s east front piazza. Here are more area sites where you can learn about George Washington.

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George Washington's Mount Vernon east front, with it's two story facade, columned piazza, iconic cupola, and expansive Potomac River view, Virginia.

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