The last weekend of December, I took what I’m calling a “History Geek-end”.
Taking advantage of the 1/2 my client gives us for New Year’s Eve, I drove over to Brandywine Battlefield on Friday afternoon. My father tells me I’ve been there before, but I have no memory of it, so I decided I needed to go while I work 15 minutes from there still. (My current contract ends next Friday, and I’m not sure yet where I’ll be after that.) Honestly, I found it a bit disappointing. Part of the trouble was that only the Visitor’s Center was open, with Lafayette’s and Washington’s respective headquarters closed. (Fortunately, I only paid $2.50.) So I may go back at a future date in a better season. The video about the Battle itself was a bit too pro-Colonialists. It’s not in appropriate to admit we got our hats handed to us in the battle. They made a point of saying that the Colonials used their local knowledge of the terrain to their advantage, but then pointed out that the British took the unoccupied high ground without even a shot fired because the Colonials had left it unguarded. Think about that. This was still early in the war, our Army’s best days were still in the future and it’s all right to admit that.
That Saturday, I drove down to Mount Vernon to use some of my remaining free admissions, to see the third floor of the mansion which is only open to the public in December and to see the new Visitor’s Center. The third floor of the mansion is not that exciting. It’s just a few more rooms, not even made up that nicely.
The new Visitor’s Center is impressive. There’s a nice 20-minute introductory video about the man and the mansion. (Although, I hope it’s skippable on future visits, just for time’s sake.) Also, they seemed to rush us through the mansion, whereas on previous visits, we would stop in each area and be given a presentation about what we were looking at. (This may have been to due to higher crowds than I’m used to due to the holiday weekend and being later in the day than I usually make it down.) I was also disappointed that they don’t do the wreath-laying ceremony at his tomb on cold months. Last time I was there, I was fortunate enough to participate by leading those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.
But the highlight of the tour was definitely the new museum. Filled with artifacts of his life, three movies, plus other videos and interactive features, it’s very impressive. (During the movie about the Battle of Trenton, I was surprised to see it start snowing inside the theater!) Definitely worth the visit. I didn’t get to spend as much time in there as I might have liked to do having to meet up with my girlfriend to go to a party that night, but I’ll definitely go back in the future.
Before the addition of the new Visitor’s Center, Mount Vernon was already more than a full day’s visit. It even more time-consuming now. But definitely worth it. If you get the chance, go there. You won’t be disappointed.