Even before the United States of America became a nation, its residents enjoyed visits to the islands of the Caribbean. George Washington took his only trip outside colonial America in a visit to Barbados in 1751, 15 years before he became the first president of the new republic. Barbados was then a British colony and the American colonists had not yet separated from the mother country they shared with Barbados.
Follow in Washington’s path, visiting the house where he lived for two months. The Barbados National Trust has preserved the house, providing not only a “George Washington slept here” claim, but also a glimpse of life in Barbados 250 years ago.
Start on the ground floor to see the house as it was lived in historically. You’ll recognize a face basin and chamber pot, essential because there was no indoor plumbing at the time. But you may puzzle at the three stacked masonry jars that were used to filter and chill water using principles of diffusion and evaporation; simple, but effective technology in the age before bottled water and refrigeration. Some of the dishes and utensils in the kitchen were recovered from a gully behind the house.
On the second floor, see 18th-century items for medical applications. George Washington and his brother Lawrence traveled to Barbados to address Lawrence’s tuberculosis, and George contracted smallpox while he was there. They both needed medical attention. Barbadians give credit to the skill of their Dr. Lanaham who helped Washington return to good health and go on to become a world leader.
Investigate an exhibit on slavery. Learn about agricultural methods from the 1700s from farming artifacts and daily life from cooking implements. Then see the darker side of slavery with the display of manacles and other tools for punishment.
George Washington House is in Bridgetown, a short walk from other historic sites. It is open Monday through Saturday and has free on-site parking.
Get the most out of your visit to George Washington House. Below is a list of some of the top activities:
If you'd like more options, examine our Bridgetown things to do page.
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