Colonial Dames of America Headquarters and Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

Colonial Dames of America Headquarters and Mount Vernon Hotel Museum…

Duncan (with friend Sophia) 10/16/2012

Worth $8 ($7 if you pretend to be a student)? Objectively, no. Better value than the Jaques Marchais Museum? Yes. You have to take a tour that takes about an hour: there is no other option – don’t even think about trying to wander around independently.

This place has all the classic small museum fittings: 15 minute video with narrator in period costume? Check; Quasi-period furniture with no connection to the house? Check. Reconstruction of a tavern with bars around the bar (à la Historic Richmond town)? Check. Highlights included a playlist containing a song called “America of Commerce and Freedom”, a cross-stitched poem sewn – and likely written – by a ten-year-old, and a plaque under a portrait describing the occupant as a ‘Pamphleteer and Duellist’.

Most excitingly, there’s a display of fake food on the dining table just inside the door: this includes a plastic turtle soup served in a turtle shell with an elaborate pie crust around its rim. Inside the adjacent fake kitchen is a recipe for turtle soup, running to about a page and concluding with the simple statement, “Then make the soup”, having described in great detail how to kill, butcher and clean the animal in question. Unfortunately the Dames enforce a strict no photography policy so we were unable to immortalise any of this.

Finally, a word about the Dames themselves: unlike the raggle-taggle bunch of riff raff organised under the ‘Daughters of the American Revolution’ banner, they have concocted membership criteria that ensure undiluted WASPiness in perpetuity. While the DAR allow any Tommette, Dickette or Harriet whose family can be traced to America in the late 18th Century to join their ranks, the Dames require your family to have been ‘in public service’ during colonial times. In other words, get your Jewish tusch out of their house!

Colonial Dames of America Headquarters and Mount Vernon Hotel Museum               3 stars

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