Sunday, February 17, 2008

A unique tour of Kenmore

This morning my wife and I took a very unique tour of Kenmore, the home of George Washington's sister and husband. The foundation has setup a website ( that details all of the work going into restoring the home and outbuildings. The behind-the-scenes restoration tour takes about 2 hours and is available by calling (540) 370-0732 or visiting .

On this tour, you get a history of why the home was constructed, how it was sold through several families, and the hard times that resulted in changes to the original plantation. The restoration has revealed some interesting facts, such as the unique wall paper in one of the rooms. Who would have thought that wall paper could be so expensive. The tour takes you into othe new underground center of the geothermal HVAC system that maintains the home's temperature and humidity. You get to see a recreation of the kitchen building, and take a tour around the exterior with a discussion of the battlescars of the civil war.

Then into the basement, where they are still storing some of the restoration parts. The foundation is taking great care to save any components removed during the restoration down to hunks of wood. The tour then continues to the main floor where you can see, up close, the incredible detailed plaster work in the ceilings, walls and overmantels. Finally we go upstairs to see the two front rooms. Interestingly, the home has shutters, but rather than being on the exterior, are contained on the inside of the windows. These shutters fit easily on the lower floor. To allow the shutters to fit upstairs, they fold over one time to fit against the space between the wall and the window. I was also very impressed with the simplicity of the exterior compared to the elegance inside.

The foundation is now working on the details of how to furnish the house. It's going to be a daunting process, but compared to the work that had to go into some of the detail work inside, shouldn't be a problem for this group.

Thanks to John who was a wonderful guide, and put up with the many questions about details of the house. I recommend this tour to anyone interested in learning a little more about the history of Fredericksburg.

(for pictures, visit the websites at the links, they are much better than what I could get today)

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