Mount Vernon Miscellany

To probably nobody’s surprise, I have a lot of stuff packed away, ostensibly for archival purposes. Apparently my brain is wired like an historian’s. All those high school talent nights? Keep the programs for when everyone is grown up and famous, like our drama teacher’s son who is an actor and has his own IMDB page and was in the recent Snowden movie. Anyway, recently I was going through an old box of programs and pamphlets I had collected throughout my life and forcing myself to throw some away. How many “Actors from the London Stage” programs does one need? How many National Park Service pamphlets dedicated to Gettysburg, Manassas, or Eisenhower does one need?

At one point I became aware of having multiple copies of brochures from Mount Vernon. Only later did I notice the archival opportunity these copies presented, as I had three distinct copies from three separate visits in my life. I doubt few people will care that I have this chance to trace the evolution of the brand, but I’m really excited.


As you can probably tell, the one on the far left dates from the early 2000s and has the early 2000s/late 1990s aesthetic. I’m not sure who chose fluorescent green AND yellow for the cover, but I’m glad they moved away from it. The colors have also faded over time, as the brochure is nearly 15 years old. The trip itself was quite memorable. Mount Vernon was one of the last stops on our high school trip to DC and my first time here. Spurred on by my love for Felicity, no doubt, I had already gone through a short-lived colonial history kick and it was very exciting to be at this relatively mythical place. I remember very clearly the vibrant greens and blues in the May sun and how a light breeze played off the river to make the pier a perfect sit-and-chat temperature (around 68*).

The middle one is more recent, 3-5 years ago, this one emphasizing George Washington himself. The cover design says you go there for Washington and you happen to get his estate, museums, and gardens as an extra treat. I like the use of the script font. Very classical and elegant, much like the man. This was from a trip with my parents, who were doing a tour of all the Founding Father Places in Virginia (Charlottesville, Montpelier, etc). The notable memory of this trip was a bitter discussion with my sister about my favorite American Girl doll Felicity being locked up in that stupid vault and how the new historical doll Caroline was featured in the gift shop in her stead.


Two things: 1) Felicity also had my favorite illustrations. 2) I would pay a lot of money for fabric in that pattern.

The very last brochure was from this April when I went for the reenactment. I have a post about it. I like the design of this one the best because, I think, the amount of sky in the image creates a sense of inclusiveness, that you get the featured house as well as the person of Washington, his lands, and the whole era. From a typographical perspective, I LOVE the ampersand. And I greatly appreciate the dark blue stripe in the heading. It’s also a better photographic angle than the first brochure. I don’t care what my art professors told me, I like symmetry.

Between taking these photographs and writing this post, I’ve, er, misplaced the brochures. Whoops. I’d be interested to actually read the copy and trace the evolution of the story presented and what artifacts are highlighted.

Mount Vernon has somehow rocketed to the top of my favorite historical places list, probably only a very short distance behind Gettysburg. Next time I’m there, I’d like to check out the distillery and go poking around the grounds more. There’s always more to see and maybe the brochure will have changed by then too.


The open brochures: The first one utilizes an unnatural pink. The second one has information if you open it up all the way. The last one has a map if you fold it down, but also has a really nice utilization of the grid to show important objects from the estate.


A truly terrible photo of the backs. I’m glad they abandoned the faded box overlay of the original one. I like the inclusion of the accessible infographics on the last one. The middle one has a mighty fine photograph of Washington, looking impressive on a horse (horse not included).




Felicity Image Source


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