Mary Washington House Museum
The spectral matron of the house is watchful and present.
She has a famous family member who visits with a purpose;
Another spectral family member is fun-loving.
The Mary Washington House Museum is a special place indeed to Mary Washington, and present day people who love the late 1700s’ era. The Mary Washington House Museum interior and the grounds have been restored to what it originally was during the 17 years that Mary lived there.
It was definitely determined that the two one story and a half wings on Charles Street were the oldest structures. The two story central portion was built in between these two cottages and the brick dining room on Lewis Street was the last addition to the Home
In 1774, George Washington picked this home and property for his Mom, Mary Washington. It has been a historic house museum for years now, and has 18th century furniture and artifacts that Mary would’ve appreciated. Seven of her prized possessions; such her full length mirror and pottery collection are on display. Docents give tours of the home, telling about Mary Washington’s life and interesting things about her and her house.
The descendants of her great-step grandson, donated his handsome book case. It sits in the parlor and is part of the tour.
In Mary’s time, there were two rooms where there now is one room. One of the rooms was her bed room and the other room was the parlor. As it is set up now, her bedroom is now set up in what was the parlor, and the parlor is now set up in her bedroom. The original front door was moved when the wall was taken down years ago.
There are two gardens outside that were planted with what Mary liked while alive. The beauty garden has plants with beautiful blossoms, blooming shrubs and lovely floral beds that Mary was known to love. In the Kitchen garden, herbs and vegetables have been planted. There is a new laid brick path that historically had led the way to Kenmore Mansion. As all the original trees except for one have died out over the 200+ years since Mary lived here, Boxwood shrubs, favorite shrubs of Mary, were planted; taken from the original boxwood shrubs that survived in the yard. Boxwood must be a pretty tough scrub!
Augustine and Mary Washington, George’s parents settled on Ferry Farm Plantation, outside of Fredericksburg. George, Elizabeth, Sam, Charles, and John Augustine lived there with their parents. Patriarch Augustine died in 1743, when George Washington was eleven years old. Augustine passed down Ferry Farm to his son, George, with Mary in control until George came of age. Mary had not a fortune but enough money to raise her children at Ferry Farm. She threw her best effort into raising and educating her children and running Ferry Farm as well. Mary loved to garden and had two gardens; one for beauty where she planted all her favorite shrubs and flowers, and one for the kitchen; made of up of herbs and vegetables/fruits.
When George reached the age of twelve, when children were usually sent back to England for an education, there was not enough money to send George back to England for school, so Mary sent George to Mount Vernon to study with his older half-brother, Laurence. Laurence developed TB, during George’s stay, so Laurence looked around for the best next training for his half-brother whom he loved. When George was fourteen, his gifts for the military were noticed by his half-brother, Lawrence and his friend, a Major in the British Navy. George wanted to join the British Navy, but Mary made a tough parental decision and said no, that he was needed at home. So George left Mt Vernon and came back to Ferry Farm very deflated.
To cheer up her very disappointed son, Mary did give him his father’s surveying equipment, hired a tutor to teach him how to use the equipment to survey land. George learned his lessons well, and soon was making money as a surveyor. He was hired at 16 to go on an expedition to survey the frontier land of Virginia. He saved his money and bought property. He also learned about growing crops and being a plantation owner on Ferry Farm.
George did join the Continental Army; Virginia regiment probably at 18 and distinguished himself, during the French and Indian War becoming a Major by 21 years. He eventually rose to the rank of General, and was Eventually picked to lead the regiments fighting against the British when the Revolutionary War broke out.
Mary’s relationship was strained with George, but he honored his mother and became her major support when she became elderly. By 1771, Mary couldn’t work the land as she had done so, she or her grown children decided that George needed to sell Ferry Farm, and downsize by moving his 64 year old Monther to Fredericksburg. In 1772, George Washington was a caring son, and first went on a house hunting expedition in Fredericksburg. He found the perfect house and property, located really close to Kenmore Mansion, where his sister Betsy lived with family. Mary’s son Charles was just a few blocks away as well. George bought this property from Michael Robinson, lots 107 and 108, that had several buildings with the current house with two wings, and a garden area; the perfect downsized home for his mother.
It was an adjustment for Mary Washington downsizing to a city house with less property. She made the best of it, and she with a positive attitude, planted her two gardens; one for beauty and one for the kitchen. Boxwood evergreen scrubs were one of her favorite bushes and her favorite flowers were planted.
George laid a brick path, and planted thirteen horse chestnut trees that she loved, along the path that led to daughter Betsy’s home, Kenmore Mansion, that was really close. With her positive attitude, she grew to love her new home, and was able to walk the horse chestnut tree-lined to Kenmore to see her daughter. He later bought her a “riding chair” so that she could more easily visit her friends and neighbors. George would come and visit her, and stay in the bedroom above hers.
During the War for Independence, Mary would walk or ride to an outcropping of rock with a large flat rock on Betty’s estate, now referred to as “Meditation Rock” where she would pray for her son and his success. Mary lived to see her son General George Washington succeed in his drive to defeat the British in the War.
Mary joined the big celebration, called the Peace Ball, at the Washington Tavern (her son Charles’ former townhome) in 1881 that celebrated the defeat of the British at Yorktown, along with important people that she got to personally meet in her own home when they came by to see her, such as The Marquis de Lafayette. I bet they were all thankful that she had said no to the British Navy. She also lived long enough to know that George Washington would be elected the first President of the United States. In April 1789, George traveled to see her and tell her that he was just elected to be President, to get her blessing. She blessed him with the following words: “Go where God sends you and always know you have your mother’s love.”
Mary died of cancer in August of 1789. She was buried near Meditation Rock. Her grave marker was lost and now the grave is unmarked.
After Mary died in 1789, the Washington family lost the house because George wasn’t great at record keeping and he couldn’t prove he owned the house. Oops!
For a hundred years afterward, many families lived here. Life went on in this home “until an attempt to acquire and move the property to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1890 spurred the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) to secure the permanent preservation of the house and grounds. The newly formed Mary Washington Branch of the APVA took responsibility for the home.”
They hired archaeologists to find evidence of what in the home was original to the time that Mary Washington lived there before they restored it to its historical 1770 appearance, though they didn’t put the wall back up between Mary’s bedroom and parlor, or change back the original place of the front door. One of the things they did was to open up the front porch once more.
In 1929-1930, APVA began to make good use of what the archaeologist had determined, and restorer Philip & Stern put Mary’s house back together as it once had been.
For instance, the enclosed front porch was reopened, and the window shutters found in the old kitchen were rehung on the front windows.
It was this group, the APVA who sought out the help of the Virginia Garden Club to restore what was thought to grow in Mary Washington’s beauty garden and her kitchen garden as well. they did the research and planted all of Mary’s favorite plants; including Boxwood schrubs and flowers, plus all the herbs and vegetables that were grown in the late 1700s’. “W. Thomas Borellis assisted the Garden Club along with landscape artists and developed a plan based on evidence of Mary Washington’s “habits, her likes, and her needs in a garden.”
Apparently, the living are the only ones who enjoy this Mary Washington House Museum. The spirit of Mary Washington loves it as well and perhaps two of her family members.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When grave stones disappear off of graves, or if graves never received a marker, spirits can become restless.
Mary Washington’s grave marker disintegrated over time. People just know that her grave lies near Meditation Rock.
People who really enjoy living in their homes, especially if it is their retirement or dream home, may decide as spirits to continue to enjoy their favorite structure in this world.
Mary Washington loved the home that she lived in for 17 years. Her son George bought it for her, making it a prized possession.
When a House Museum is restored to its original design, and is filled with items of that era, perhaps even with personal possessions, spirits are drawn back to enjoy their memories and admire items they liked while alive.
The Mary Washington House Museum is furnished like a Colonial home, which must be a comforting environmental trigger to draw her back to her favorite place.
The kind of gardens that Mary Washington liked; a beauty garden full of her favorite flowering plants and shrubs, and a Kitchen Garden that had all plants, herbs and vegetables planted for use in the kitchen; all Mary’s favorites.
Eight of Mary’s favorite possessions were donated and put on display; such as her full length dressing mirror and her own pottery.
The spirit of Mary’s step grand son may come to visit his book cupboard and her as well.
Sometimes, spirits of family members will come to visit spirits who are residing in their beloved structure.
The spirit of George Washington may still visit his mother.
The spirit of her step-grandson may visit as well.
If Spirits have unfinished business in this world, sometimes they stay to try to find a solution to complete their business.
The spirit of George Washington is still looking through papers to try to find the deed to the house when he visits his mom.
Spirit of Mary Washington
A benign but strong, determined can-do spirit who wears long skirts and other attire women in her era.
She likes to do now what she did when she was living here and often heard and on occasion seen by the living.
Mary likes to move around her house, and shuts doors to keep the warmth inside the room. Docents have heard the swishing of her skirts and see the doors close by themselves. She wants them to know that she is there and watching.
She likes to putter around her kitchen remembering her favorite cooking times.
She likes to look at her favorite possessions on display.
She keeps an eye on the living, and will supervise if needed. She finds ways to communicate with the living when necessary. She may have been slightly annoyed because the front door location was moved and not restored to where it was, and the wall that was removed wasn’t put back the way it was, and her bedroom and parlor switched places.
After the museum closes, she may like to walk around her gardens, and perhaps even walks down the brick path to Kenmore Mansion, probably to support the upset spirit of her daughter, Betsy, who keeps the spirit of Fielding, her husband company as he continues to fret about finances.
The Spirit of George Washington
The smell of wig powder and pacing of foot steps up in his old bedroom have been heard and sensed.
He has been seen by a medium throwing papers on the floor while looking for the deed, in a determined manner. He couldn’t do it at the time because he was caught in Washington doing the work of the President.
The Spirit of Mary’s great step-grandson – A fun-loving fellow!
The doors of his former Book Cabinet flies open in a playful manner sometimes during tours and for the benefit of docents. The one door is pushed from the inside that pops the other door open as well. Especially surprised was a group of elementary school children on a class tour.
Someone passing by after-hours may have seen the spirit of Mary in her gardens.
Docents can testify to the paranormal activity listed above.
Mike Ricksecker Haunted Road Media caught some hard evidence of the spirits who love the place. He invited a medium Vanessa Hogle by phone to psychically see what was going on spectrally, not knowing at what location Mike was investigating.
Spirit of Mary communicated to Vanessa showing her the children, and the books she used to educate them. She saw a spirit looking earnestly through stack of papers, smelled the unique smell of powder put on 18th century wigs, and a man’s pacing upstairs in the room above Mary’s.
1200 Charles Street,
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
The Mary Washington House Museum is located near the intersection of Lewis Street and Charles Street. It sits within a historic residential neighborhood, but also within walking distance of Mary Washington’s daughter, Betsy, at Kenmore Mansion and close to her son Charles’ townhouse when he lived in Fredericksburg.
- The Ghosts of Virginia Vol 6, by L. B. Taylor Jr., Washington Book Distributors, 2001
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr