Washington lived at Mount Vernon for forty-five years, from the time he was twenty-two until his death. He and Martha are buried on the premises. He loved this place, and over the years he tripled the size of the mansion, redesigned the grounds and outbuildings, and bought neighboring lands. The present site was purchased by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1858 from Washington's descendants for $200,000 and is almost unchanged in its appearance from 1799, when Washington died.
Today the estate is a mere 500 acres of the former president's holdings, but even at one-sixteenth of its original size, Mount Vernon is at least a half-day's touring experience. Visitors can now enjoy the fruits of a multiyear, $95 million campaign to revitalize the historic property and promote the legacy of George Washington, including two new and spectacular theater and museum buildings that give the George Washington experience a new dimension. Also, there's a wonderful gift shop and a Colonial restaurant nearby, so plan on making a day of this trip.
To put visitors face-to-face with George Washington as a real person, three wax heads (with real human hair) were created of him as a ninteen-year-old surveyor, a forty-five-year-old general, and the fiftyseven-year-old president. Since no photographs or paintings exist of his younger years, a team of scientists and artists using cutting-edge techniques re-created his appearance.