Saturday, March 18, 2006

Another dose of history

On Friday, my mom and I headed to Historic Germantown to see some more old buildings. It was a great visit. Mostly, we just walked around taking pictures, but we had two interesting impromptu history lessons that made the trip even more valuable.

First, we wandered onto the property of Germantown Friends School. We were admiring what looked like a very old cemetery when a teacher walked up to us and asked us what brought us there. It turns out that he is a history teacher and archivist, and we spent the next half-hour or so learning about the Quaker settlements of Germantown, who was buried in the graveyard, which buildings dated back to the 1800's, and the problem of "white flight".

Then, when we were on our way back to the car, I noticed a little sign in the window of the Deshler-Morris House that contradicted the big sign that had told us earlier that the house wouldn't open until April. On a whim, I rang the doorbell, and a sweet retired couple, volunteers with the National Park Service, walked us all through the house, right into the dining room and bedrooms, and regaled us with all kinds of stories about the house and the time that President George Washington stayed there during the yellow fever epidemic to avoid getting infected.

I actually remembered to bring my digital camera this time for taking indoor photos, since I have yet to figure out how to use my Minolta's flash attachment properly. So, here are a couple of digital pictures of "Germantown's White House".

This is the study adjacent to the Washingtons' bedroom where the President would have drafted documents and such:

This is the tearoom where Martha would take her tea in peace while the cabinet met in the adjacent parlor, debating loudly and smoking, uh, smokily. Please note the Dutch tile-work around the fireplace, featuring GOATS in various poses. I always knew the Washingtons were cool, but this sealed the deal:

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