Saturday, June 13, 2015

Society Saturday - George William Fairfax's London Shopping Spree

Adam Erby, Curator at George Washington's Mount Vernon, gave an interesting presentation to the National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars.  The current National President's Project is to digitize some of the papers at Mount Vernon, including those that Mr. Erby spoke about.

George William Fairfax was the owner of Belvoir Plantation, just south of Mt. Vernon.  In 1763 he traveled to London to buy furnishings for his home in Virginia.  His diary, now in the possession of Mount Vernon, details his purchases and describes many of the pieces he bought.

In 1774, George Washington notes in his ledger, the purchase of many of the same items from Belvoir plantation.  In fact, when the Fairfax family sold their possessions before they returned to England, they sold approximately half of their possesions to their soon-to-be-famous neighbor.

The combination of Fairfax's diary and Washington's ledger have been extremely helpful to the curators at Mount Vernon.  They are now able to recreate several rooms more authentically.  For example, Washington purchased a bed chamber decorated with blue damask at the auction. Based on information about this purchase, as well as from the diary, the curators now know that he painted the room Prussian blue to match his new furniture.

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