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Dropping in on George Washington's birthplace


The Northern Neck is steeped in history, and no place is that more evident than as you cruise down scenic Virginia Route 3 through Westmoreland and Lancaster Counties. In this first of a series of articles on “Historyland Highway,” we’ll check in first at the Northern Neck’s only National Monument – the Washington’s Birthplace National Monument at Popes Creek Plantation, a few miles west of Montross in Westmoreland County.

George Washington – first President of the United States – was born at Popes Creek in 1732, on the southern shore of the Potomac River.

His birthplace is open to the public year round.

Arriving at Popes Creek, you’ll find ample parking at a large and attractive visitors center. Inside are exhibits on Washington’s life and career, a short film, and helpful Park Service staff to answer questions.

The interior of the Washington's Birthplace Visitors Center

One of the most frequently asked questions is “what did George Washington’s home look like?” No one knows for sure, since it burned in 1770. It was a mystery for man years, until excavation work in 1936 unearthed the house’s foundation. Though we know the shape and dimensions of the house, we still don’t know the style, but archeologist say the foundation certainly could have supported a two storey home. Visitors can see where the home once stood.

The "Memorial House" was built to honor the memory of George Washington on the occasion of his 200th birthday celebration in 1932. It’s not meant to be a replica of Washington’s home, only a representation of similar homes of the period.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument preserves the heart of the Washingtons' lands in America. John Washington, the immigrant, arrived in Westmoreland County in 1657, and settled near Bridges Creek.

Generations of Washingtons lived on these lands and established a legacy of public service, leadership, and love of the land. The rich legacy of the Washingtons would culminate with George Washington's achievements as the "Father of Our Country.

At right - The outline of the foundation of the home in which Washington was born.


Washington was born on the plantation as a small child, and later returned as a teenager when a relative inherited the plantation. The grounds are maintained in keeping with an 18th century plantation, with farm animals, tool and blacksmith shops, and other necessities of an agrarian culture.

The Washington Birthplace National Monument tells an important chapter in Northern Neck History – and provides insight into the influences that shaped the character of the man who wound help found a nation.

At left - One of the barns where visitors may see the tools and implements in common use during Washington's boyhood. Below - Watch a short video about Washington's Birthplace.