Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon

Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon Our mission is to preserve and maintain the historic structures and landscape of George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate to their eighteenth-century appearance through the fields of historic preservation, archaeology, GIS, and collections management.
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After much hard work by the architecture team to stabilize and repair the 18th-century roof framing, siding, and windows...
06/19/2020

After much hard work by the architecture team to stabilize and repair the 18th-century roof framing, siding, and windows of the 1785 north garden house (in the upper garden), the new cypress roof shingles are now being installed! The shingles will be left to weather before they are stained red. Stay tuned for photographs of the finished product after the roof is completed in a few weeks. And, when you next visit Mount Vernon, be sure to swing past the north garden house to check out the new roof.

George Washington's Mount Vernon
06/17/2020

George Washington's Mount Vernon

We're excited to announce that George Washington's estate will open to the general public on Sunday, June 21 and to members on Saturday, June 20!

Mount Vernon will reopen with a primarily outdoor experience. The Mansion interior will remain closed but guests are encouraged to take advantage of our 160-acre estate.

Updates to our safety protocol:
• To maintain social distancing, the number of guests on the estate will be limited. Because of this, we strongly encourage you to buy in advance online for guaranteed entry.
• Guests will be required to wear face coverings upon arrival at the estate, when indoors, and in spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained.
• All bags brought onto the estate to be clear plastic bags. This will allow our team to safely conduct bag checks during this period.

For more safety information, to see what's open on the estate, and to purchase your tickets, visit mountvernon.org/open, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!

06/12/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Join us LIVE in our Archaeology Lab for a look at artifacts found on the estate with Mount Vernon's Curator of Archaeological Collections Sean Devlin on Friday, June 12 at noon ET!

06/12/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

Come join us today at noon for a talk with our Curator of Archaeological Collections!

Join us LIVE in our Archaeology Lab for a look at artifacts found on the estate with Mount Vernon's Curator of Archaeological Collections Sean Devlin on Friday, June 12 at noon ET!

06/08/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Join Mount Vernon Research Archaeologist Jason Boroughs at the Slave Quarters and House for Families site for a discussion on archaeology and the enslaved community at Mount Vernon.

Please take a moment of your time to read our commitment to standing against racism and racial injustice.
06/05/2020

Please take a moment of your time to read our commitment to standing against racism and racial injustice.

The demonstrations we see in cities and towns across our nation are, in part, a consequence of America's unwillingness to engage in a constructive dialogue on the legacies of race-based slavery and inequality. Slavery and racial oppression have deep roots in our society, both preceded the existence of the United States, and were not overthrown in our revolutionary birth. Even when free, Black Americans were rarely accorded the rights of citizens in our founding era, and full equal treatment remains elusive.

We are still struggling to live up to the promises of our founding creed. We fought a revolution, declared "all men to be created equal," yet allowed slavery to continue.

This is our imperfect union. Our “great experiment.” Ours is a republic that requires citizen oversight. It demands that we stand up, share ideas, and be heard. It requires our citizens to be students of history, to recognize the mistakes and inequalities of the past, to keep an open mind to new ideas, and to listen to each other. It asks citizens to vote to shape their future.

Mount Vernon stands against racism. We recognize George and Martha Washington held men, women, and children in bondage. Mount Vernon stands with all who wish to help make our imperfect union, a bit more perfect. We seek to educate people about the past so they can reflect on these histories and create a better world for tomorrow. We do so by preserving the stories of those who called our estate home, not only our nation's founding father, who helped launch our flawed but powerful democratic experiment but those who served him in bondage and made his achievements possible. Washington’s life, and the lives of the people he enslaved, are forever intertwined with our past and our future together.

We encourage you to explore the lives of those who have come before us; people like Doll, Frank Lee, Hercules, and Ona Judge. Use their stories of hardship, resistance, punishment, and community to understand our nation's inequalities. Remember and tell their stories while you explore the lives and ideas of people like George Washington and other founders. Then take these lessons to your communities, share with others, and use them to contribute to our nation's long-deferred dialogue.

Mount Vernon stands in solidarity with those confronting racism and racial injustice and will continue to contribute to this important national dialogue. We invite others to join us by sharing their own thoughts at mountvernon.org/dialogue

Even though the estate has been closed to visitors, the preservation team has been hard at work in the little parlor. Th...
05/29/2020

Even though the estate has been closed to visitors, the preservation team has been hard at work in the little parlor. The floors were thoroughly cleaned, and the ceiling was conserved before receiving several fresh coats of whitewash. The whitewash recipe was developed by Architectural Conservator Steve Stuckey, based on 18th-century examples. After whitewashing, the team bid a fond farewell to Steve, who will be moving his talents to Wisconsin. Up next, the Rumford fireplace insert will be rebuilt with bricks. The room will also be repainted, and wallpaper will be hung on the walls.

05/04/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Explore a different part of the Mansion LIVE every Monday at noon. This Monday, we’ll learn about the architecture and exterior of the Mansion with our Director of Architecture, Tom Reinhart.

Prior to the wide availability of cement in the later 19th century, lime-based mortar, plaster, and whitewash were stand...
05/01/2020

Prior to the wide availability of cement in the later 19th century, lime-based mortar, plaster, and whitewash were standardly used in building construction, including at Mount Vernon. Lime is a naturally-occurring compound that is rich in calcium. Since antiquity, it has been obtained from calcium carbonate, which is found in materials like limestone or oyster shells. Lime is processed into a building material through a series of steps called the lime cycle. During the pandemic closure, preservation mason Kevin Jones has been working at home, experimenting with making mortar using 18th-century techniques. While Washington’s masons used oyster shell to make lime, Kevin had to make do with limestone found at his home. When he’s back on the estate this summer, he’ll give it another go using shell. We have enjoyed watching his first go around so much, we wanted to share it!

The architecture team has continued making essential repairs to the north garden house this month. With stabilization of...
04/17/2020

The architecture team has continued making essential repairs to the north garden house this month. With stabilization of the framing of the roof and upper walls completed, Preservation Carpenter Brad Collins has been removing, repairing, and reinstalling siding boards to seal the building envelope from the elements...

03/19/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon President & CEO Doug Bradburn will broadcast live from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to give an update on what is happening on the estate while it is closed to the public.

George Washington's Mount Vernon
03/19/2020

George Washington's Mount Vernon

While Mount Vernon is closed to the public, we will be coming to you LIVE every weekday at noon ET! Learn more at mountvernon.org/livestream

George Washington's Mount Vernon
03/14/2020
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Given the local, national and worldwide efforts to mitigate the spread and impact of the coronavirus, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association will close George Washington's Mount Vernon to visitors beginning March 14 through March 31. We will continue our mission to educate people around the world through our robust digital presence.

Yesterday, members of our preservation and collections staff had the treat of paying a visit to our colleagues in Coloni...
02/26/2020

Yesterday, members of our preservation and collections staff had the treat of paying a visit to our colleagues in Colonial Williamsburg. We were eager to hear about their recent discoveries made at Custis Square, the home site of John Custis IV (Martha Washington's father-in-law). The research shared with us covered topics ranging from the grandiose landscape design and Custis' passion for art and experimental medicine to the growing biographies of the enslaved individuals who worked his properties. It was a great day and we look forward to hosting our CW colleagues at Mount Vernon soon!

Glorious plaster (and whitewash)! As promised, and as artfully captured by Digital Preservation Specialist Sierra Medell...
02/21/2020

Glorious plaster (and whitewash)! As promised, and as artfully captured by Digital Preservation Specialist Sierra Medellin, here is the completed ceiling of the second floor passage. The plaster work was led by Architectural Conservator Steve Stuckey and Restoration Specialist Andy Compton, with invaluable support from the rest of the architecture team.

The Mansion has reopened to visitors, which means that the architecture team successfully completed the replastering of ...
02/10/2020

The Mansion has reopened to visitors, which means that the architecture team successfully completed the replastering of the second floor passage ceiling (as well as several other smaller projects)! During the closure period, the team worked tirelessly to prepare the space, remove the 20th-century plaster, mix new plaster, apply both a scratch coat and a finish coat of plaster, whitewash the ceiling, and perform documentation throughout. Come see the Mansion in person, or check out our post next week, which will feature the finished product.

HPMV alumnus Eric Litchford started his new job at Preservation Virginia. Their resources are in good hands! Although Er...
02/05/2020

HPMV alumnus Eric Litchford started his new job at Preservation Virginia. Their resources are in good hands! Although Eric is sorely missed on the estate.

Eric Litchford, Preservation Specialist and Project Manager for Preservation Virginia, is overseeing Dominion Traditional Building Group's work on the cellar lintels on the eastern side of the house!

These fireplace arch supports, which are not original to the house, are being replaced. Over time, they had rusted and the brick around them began breaking and cracking. This destructive process called "oxide jacking" would have ultimately undermined the stability of the entire firebox.

Hello followers, new and old! Thank you so much for all your excellent questions and comments about mansion closure. As ...
02/03/2020

Hello followers, new and old! Thank you so much for all your excellent questions and comments about mansion closure. As you can probably guess, things are a bit busy at the moment but we will replying to you all in due time!

Plastering begins today bright and early.
01/31/2020

Plastering begins today bright and early.

Recap of the first week of closure work. Scaffolding, documentation and preparing for plastering.
01/31/2020

Recap of the first week of closure work. Scaffolding, documentation and preparing for plastering.

Tonight starts a two week closure of the Mansion. The architecture team is working the late shift, prepping the house fo...
01/26/2020

Tonight starts a two week closure of the Mansion. The architecture team is working the late shift, prepping the house for the replacement of the second-floor ceiling of the central passage. Scaffolding goes up tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

It's an incredibly windy day but we're making progress out at the necessary. Before the project is wrapped up, the site ...
01/16/2020

It's an incredibly windy day but we're making progress out at the necessary. Before the project is wrapped up, the site will be heavily documented using photogrammetry to create a 3D model!

It's almost that time of year again! Our time spent during the mansion closure always produces new insights that we will...
01/15/2020

It's almost that time of year again! Our time spent during the mansion closure always produces new insights that we will eagerly share with you!

The interior of the Mansion will be closed for scheduled annual preservation work from January 27 to February 9. While the interior of the Mansion is closed for tours, the rest of the estate & museum will remain open, and general admission will be 25% off!

Each winter for the past several years, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has closed the interior of the Mansion for two weeks, while attendance is at its lowest. This closure period is an invaluable opportunity for the preservation and collections teams at Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon to execute projects along the visitor path that would otherwise negatively impact the visitor experience.

During this year’s work period, the preservation team will focus on replacing the plaster on the ceiling of the second floor passage, which has needed attention for some time. The project will involve erecting a multi-level scaffold up the stair, removing the existing 19th-century plaster, and applying two coats of lime plaster. The plaster will then need to cure for several months, although visitor traffic will resume.

The team will also do some regular maintenance, including applying a fresh coat of paint to the woodwork and walls along the visitor path and a protective coating to the stair balustrade (as seen in this 2019 photo of Architectural Conservator Steve Stuckey). The collections team will also take the opportunity to thoroughly clean, inspect and inventory objects on display throughout the house.

We are very happy to be able to assist our colleagues at  DAACS in their endeavor to expand their training program for m...
01/13/2020

We are very happy to be able to assist our colleagues at DAACS in their endeavor to expand their training program for material culture assessment!

We were just introduced to how the DAACS material culture assessment has made its way to Tulsa. In that spirit, in collaboration with Dr. Alicia Odewale, the DAACS team and volunteers from the DAACS community will be administering a similar assessment at The Society for Historical Archaeology meetings in Boston to collect data for a scientific study on material culture training in the discipline. We have been working with colleagues and collaborators to build an assessment with artifacts from Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon, and Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology - artifacts critically lacking that frustrating red staining from Archaeology at Monticello’s Piedmont clays!

If you are interested in testing your artifact know-how (or want to know more about our study) swing by the DAACS table in the bookroom to sign up for a time with the assessment. The assessment is anonymous, unless you elect to learn your individual results, and you’ll receive a $20 Amazon gift card and chocolate for your time. See all of you in Boston!

#2019rewind! One of the more unique opportunities we had this year was to share our collections with artist and writer K...
12/31/2019

#2019rewind! One of the more unique opportunities we had this year was to share our collections with artist and writer Kimberly Walters (K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse). Kim creates historically inspired and reproduction jewelry with a particular interest in the 18th century.

An active participant in living history events both as an individual and a vendor, we first spoke with her while she was attending Mount Vernon's Colonial Market. Her visit to lab was a delight! We had a great time discussing material culture and personal adornment as well gaining new insight into particularly difficult to identify artifacts. To read more about Kim's visit, check out her blog! https://www.kwaltersatthesignofthegrayhorse.com/2019/10/visit-to-george-washingtons-mount.html?m=1

#2019rewind! One of the projects progressing within the mansion that will carry into the new year is the restoration of ...
12/31/2019

#2019rewind! One of the projects progressing within the mansion that will carry into the new year is the restoration of the Little Parlor. The plaster on the west wall, which was not original, needed to be removed from the 18th-century lath to install fire suppression infrastructure. After installation, new layers of historically-accurate plaster, a mixture of burnt oyster shell, sand, and horsehair, were applied. The wall will take several months to completely cure. We look forward to keeping you updated as work continues!

#2019rewind! Earlier in September, after five seasons of excavation, archaeology in the South Grove area was completed (...
12/29/2019

#2019rewind! Earlier in September, after five seasons of excavation, archaeology in the South Grove area was completed (for now at least). Before being back filled with sand, the 18th century drainage network we discovered was 3D laser scanned to add to our extensive documentation of the site. While the actual excavation may be over, we will be cataloging the thousands of artifacts and analyzing field reports for years to come!

12/27/2019

#2020 is on it's way! Stay tuned to learn more about some smaller projects underway and the major milestones we hit from this very busy year!

12/18/2019
George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Discover Mount Vernon's preservation plans & projects for 2020 with Susan Schoelwer, Executive Director of Historic Preservation & Collections!

Don't miss out! Get your questions ready for our Executive Director of Historic Preservation and Collections Susan Schoe...
12/17/2019

Don't miss out! Get your questions ready for our Executive Director of Historic Preservation and Collections Susan Schoelwer as she discusses future projects we will be undertaking at Mount Vernon.

Join us tomorrow for a Facebook Live update on our preservation plans & projects for 2020! Ask your questions now & join us for the answers on Wednesday, December 18 at 11:00 am ET

It's #NationalHorseDay! 🐎 18th century life relied heavily on horses. Men, women, and children all rode and utilized the...
12/13/2019

It's #NationalHorseDay! 🐎 18th century life relied heavily on horses. Men, women, and children all rode and utilized these creatures out of necessity and also for pleasure. We often find archaeological evidence of horses across Mount Vernon's landscape in the form of horseshoes and nails as well as horse furniture such as buckles and ornaments that would have been attached to their tack. Check out this page (http://mountvernonmidden.org/data/content.html?pS=Horse) from the Mount Vernon Midden website to read more the horses in Washington's world and we interpret them!

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3200 Mt Vernon Memorial Hwy
Mount Vernon, VA
22121

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