Virginia

Encircle Virginia: This State nicknamed Old Dominion is rich with American history. Examples include the first English colony, a vital role in the American Revolution, birthplace of eight U. S. presidents and the former home of the Confederate White House.

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1 George Washington Mount Vernon Estate in Alexandria, Virginia

One of the best views overlooking the Potomac River was acquired by George Washington’s great-great grandfather in 1674. 87 years later, this picturesque property became Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate until his death in the master bedchamber in 1799. The first president’s main house is flanked by two others. Also on the grounds are a greenhouse, a coach house, a blacksmith shop and other buildings restored to their 18th century appearance.

3200 Mount Vernon Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
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2 George Washington Grave at Mount Vernon Estate in Alexandria, Virginia

When George Washington died in December, 1799, at the age of 67, Congress wanted to build a pyramid mausoleum at the Capitol. Instead, the nation’s founding father was buried in a family crypt on the grounds of his Mount Vernon estate in Alexandria, Virginia. 37 years later, his body was moved to this tomb. Also interred here are Martha and other family members.

3200 Mount Vernon Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
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3 Cherry Blossom Riverboat on Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia

About six miles from Washington D.C. is the Old Town of Alexandria, Virginia. The area has maintained the charm of its heritage as a port since 1749. This includes cobblestone streets, historic markers and colonial homes and churches. Near an old torpedo factory is the Potomac River waterfront. It offers a variety of ways to float past the nation’s capital. These alternatives include dinner cruises and paddleboats like the Cherry Blossom. This is a 19th century replica of a Victorian riverboat.

Old Town Alexandria Harbor, Thompsons Alley, Alexandria, VA 22314
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4 James and Dolley Madison Plantation in Montpelier Station, Virginia

James Madison was raised with 11 siblings on a 5,000 acre tobacco plantation in Orange County, Virginia. In 1797, shortly before James Madison became Secretary of State under President Jefferson, he moved back to Montpelier Station near the town of Orange with his wife Dolley. He received extensive architectural advice from the third president. When Madison became the fourth president, he again solicited advice from his neighbor during further additions. The mansion has been restored to its appearance before Dolley sold it in 1884.

S Montpelier Rd & W Gate Rd, Orange, VA 22960
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5 Thomas Jefferson Monticello Plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson spent much of his adult life designing, building and refining an 11,000 square foot mansion called Monticello. The historic landmark is located on 5,000 acres in Charlottesville, Virginia. The dome and portico were inspired by French architecture. The guided tour starts in the foyer with an explanation of a two-story clock and Lewis & Clark artifacts. Then you are led through his library, see the dumbwaiter in his dining room to the wine cellar below, and view the alcove bed where he died on July 4, 1826. Afterwards, walk to his grave. Along the way you will see outbuildings including the slave quarters called Mulberry Row.

949 Monticello Loop, Charlottesville, VA 22902
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6 Thomas Jefferson Bust at Monticello Plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia

This bronze bust of Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president, stands at the entrance of his Monticello plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia. He spent most of his adulthood building the elaborate, Neoclassical mansion on the top of a hill until he died in its bedroom on July 4, 1826. The 5,000 acre estate for tobacco and wheat included slave quarters plus a dairy barn, store house, a nail factory, a sizable wine cellar and an experimental vegetable garden. Both his grave and those of his slaves are nearby.

949 Monticello Loop, Charlottesville, VA 22902
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7 Alderman Library at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

One of three accomplishments carved on Thomas Jefferson’s grave is, “…father of the University of Virginia.” He founded the school in 1819. The first class was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, about four months before he died in 1825. The campus still reflects the former president’s original design. The layout includes the Rotunda and 10 Pavilions forming a U-shape around The Lawn. Where these girls are chatting is the Alderman Library. After construction was completed in 1938, it was named after the school’s first president, Edwin Alderman.

160 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22904
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Cheeseburger with Wings and Beer Stein Mural in Charlottesville, Virginia

I don’t recall Greek mythology featuring a flying cheeseburger with the wings of Nike on a sesame bun. Nor was there mention of a stein of overflowing beer. But that is exactly what is depicted in this mural in Charlottesville, Virginia. Another curiosity is suspended in the upper right corner of the window. Look closely and you will see a pair of broken glasses. It seems a farsighted ghost is looking at you.

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8 Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond, Virginia

While the governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, moved the state capitol from Williamsburg to Richmond. He also commissioned the design. It resembles the 16 BC Maison Carrée in Southern France. By the time the building was finished in 1792, Jefferson was the country’s first Secretary of State under George Washington. This structure was also the capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Virginia became the 10th state on June 25, 1788.

1000 Bank St, Richmond, VA 23219
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9 Virginia State Capitol Rotunda Dome in Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia State Capitol rotunda dome was added two years after the Richmond building was finished in 1792. At its apex is a lattice skylight. The four corner murals are the state seals and Roman symbols for unity and civic authority. On the rotunda floor is a life-size sculpture of George Washington from 1788, a year before he became president. Surrounding Washington are busts of seven other US presidents from Virginia.

1000 Bank St, Richmond, VA 23219
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10 Old City Hall in Richmond, Virginia

The Old City Hall in Richmond, Virginia, is grand and impressive. Built of gray granite in 1894, this Gothic Revival building consumes a city block and is located across from Capitol Square. The structure housed the local government until 1971. It features a 195 foot clock tower among its ornate design. These elaborate details caused the project to be one million dollars over the original $300,000 budget. It was designed by Elijah Myers, one of my favorite state capitol architects.

Old City Hall, 1001 E Broad St, Richmond, VA 23219
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11 Mighty James River Mural in Richmond, Virginia

In 1607, an English Captain named Christopher Newport planted a cross declaring a river to be the possession of James I of England. This is how the 350 mile long James River got its name. As written on this Mighty James River mural, the river has served Richmond, Virginia ever since. In the background is the James River Railway Bridge. This span, also known as the Atlantic Coast Line Railway or Belt Line Bridge, was built in 1919.

100 E Broad St, Richmond, VA 23219
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12 Jefferson Davis White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia

Jefferson Davis was a two-time senator and Secretary of War before being inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America on February 22, 1861.The first White House was moved from Alabama to this Richmond mansion when Virginia ceded the Union a few months later. Davis and his family lived here. During his residency, two children were born and one died in an accident. On April 5, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln toured the home after it was seized by Union troops. A week later, Lincoln accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender. Two days after that historic event ended the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated. This building is now the Museum of the Confederacy.

401 N 12th St, Richmond, VA 23298
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13 Six Large Cats Mural by Jaz in Richmond, Virginia

On 212 West Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, is this 2012 mural of six large cats. The artist was Argentinean artist Franco Fasoli, commonly known as Jaz. He typically creates street art on an ambitious scale. He is also known to use unique materials such as asphaltic paint and petrol. His outdoor art is seen in several international cities. This mural is one of over 100 created by numerous artists during a five year period as part of the Richmond Mural Project.

212 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA
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14 Reconstructed First Williamsburg Capitol in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg contains over 60 restored or reconstructed buildings from the early 1700s across 300 acres. As a living-history museum, costumed employees explain the various venues and reenact key activities. Others conduct a colonist’s daily life like walking down the street and removing their hat when greeting a lady. Williamsburg was once the center for the Colony of Virginia’s government. This Colonial Revival replica built in 1934 is how the first capitol looked in 1705.

500 E Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185
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15 First Colonial Settlement Church at Historic Jamestowne, Virginia

The first English colony in North American was founded by Captain John Smith and 104 settlers in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia. The hardships of famine, disease, bitter winters, Indian attacks and even cannibalism are retold at Historic Jamestowne. Among the ruins are remnants of several churches built on this site dating back to 1639. You can also explore this memorial church. The historical structure was reconstructed in 1907 using the original bricks.

1368 Colonial Pkwy, Williamsburg, VA 23185
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16 Pocahontas Statue at Historic Jamestowne, Virginia

Most know Pocahontas from the 1995 Walt Disney animated film. However, the movie is not an accurate portrayal. She was only eleven in 1607 when the English arrived in Jamestown. When Captain John Smith was captured by the Powhatan Indians and about to be executed, she intervened until her father, Chief Powhatan, spared him. When relations between the settlers and Indians deteriorated two years later, she again saved Smith by warning him of a murder plot. Unlike the Disney version, there was no love interest between her and Smith. In fact, she wanted to call him father. In 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe. He was the pioneer who introduced tobacco to the Virginians. Pocahontas died three years later at the age of 22. This statue, by William Partridge, has stood at Historic Jamestowne, Virginia, since 1922.

1368 Colonial Pkwy, Williamsburg, VA 23185
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