Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Virginia


Mount Vernon

The Spinning House, Mount Vernon, Fairfax, VA (38.708461, -77.086258)

Felling Dates: Winter 1763/4, Autumn 1764, Winter 1764/5, Autumn 1765, and Spring 1767

Sill beam 1763(28C); Principal posts 1766(¼C), 1763(½C), 1764(C, ½C), 1755; Cellar ceiling joists (0/4). Site Master 1555-1764 MTVx1 (t = 7.7 PIEDMONT; 5.7 OMBx1; 5.0 EYREHALL; 4.3 BPR).

The Spinning House is one of a collection of outbuildings that served the needs of plantation life at Mount Vernon. These outbuildings were largely constructed during a building campaign begun by George Washington just before the Revolution in 1775. It is of two rooms with an asymmetrically-placed chimney between, and is a storey-and-a-half over a full English basement. The structure is of timber frame construction with principal posts and interrupted first-floor girts, and the roof does not employ a false plate, unlike the other, later, outbuildings in the group. There is some documentary evidence surviving to support the dendrochronological dates. The building does not appear on Lawrence Washington’s 1753 probate inventory, and it is not until 1776 when the first written reference to the actual building appear in a letter from George Washington to his plantation manager Lund Washington. This document implies the Spinning House was pre-existing at the time. In 1767 Washington orders spinning wheels and appears to be expanding his textile production, which is interesting, given the spring 1767 latest felling date, suggesting construction during 1767. Compiled from notes by Dennis Pogue, Associate Director for Preservation, who commissioned the study on behalf of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2005 “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Spinning House, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Fairfax County, Virginia”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/29

Link to the Mount Vernon's wedpage here




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Contact Information

Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230