Reprinted courtesy of: George Washington's Mount Vernon
George Washington Library Designed to Reach Millions
MOUNT VERNON, VA – The grand opening date for Mount Vernon’s latest venture, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington (the Library), has been set for September 27, 2013. A $100 million campaign was created by George Washington’s Mount Vernon to establish this stunning, state-of-the-art facility at the picturesque and historic estate. The multi-faceted facility will aggressively disseminate knowledge about Washington to a wide range of audiences, using cutting-edge technology and various approaches to grow Mount Vernon’s national network of George Washington experts and enthusiasts.
“No president in American history deserves the honor of an official library more than our first chief executive–nor is there a better story to tell,” said Curt Viebranz, Mount Vernon president. “This Library will share Washington’s leadership lessons for generations to come.”
For the first time, Mount Vernon’s special collection of books, manuscripts, and archival materials will be organized, conserved and made available to researchers in the 45,000-square-foot Library. Destined to be a George Washington ‘think tank’, this long-over
due initiative will maintain Washington’s importance and relevance in a fast-changing world, when his standards of leadership are needed more than ever.
In addition to safeguarding Washington’s books and manuscripts, the Library will serve as a scholarly retreat, a center for educational outreach programs, and a go-to source for seminars and training programs with a special focus on Washington’s leadership. Visiting scholars, authors, and interns will have the option to stay in a 6,000-square-foot residence, located next to the Library. Mount Vernon’s inaugural class of fellows has been selected and will be in residence this fall.
Out of all of the founding fathers, Washington gets the least amount of credit for his intellectual attainments. Though he lacked a college education, he was far more well-read than his active life would lead us to expect or than his contemporaries acknowledged. The library he designed was filled with almost 1,300 titles on a variety of subjects, revealing his wide-ranging curiosity about the world. Whether laying out his gardens, leading an army and a nation, or building and furnishing his beloved Mount Vernon, Washington’s public and private accomplishments were a direct outgrowth of his critical reading and experimental trials. His ability to communicate effectively and with tremendous frequency is undeniable–he probably penned close to 20,000 letters!
Washington commented to friend James McHenry two years before his death that: “I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security of my military, civil and private papers, which are voluminous and may be interesting.”- George Washington, April 3, 1797.
The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the group that owns and operates Mount Vernon, does not accept federal funding. The funds used to construct and program the Library are privately raised. The campaign to construct the Library was fueled by a $38 million contribution by the Las Vegas-based Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and other generous donors. The Library is named in honor of the foundation’s longtime chairman, Fred W. Smith. To donate to the Library campaign, please visit MountVernon.org/Donate.
Public Information: 703.780.2000; 703.799.8697 (TDD); mountvernon.org
Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. A privately-owned national treasure, Mount Vernon is maintained and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family and assuming stewardship in 1858, the Association has embraced a heroic mission to preserve, protect, and maintain the estate for the American people, relying exclusively on private donations, admission fees, and restaurant and retail proceeds. Through robust education and outreach programs, the Association expands awareness about the exceptional life and character of George Washington, sustaining his legacy through research, interpretation, and public education. In experiences on the estate and through its digital outreach platforms, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”
With its latest initiative, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon is affirming its status as the preeminent center of learning about George Washington, his life, character of leadership, and legacy. In addition to safeguarding original books and manuscripts, the Library serves as a center for leadership, where scholars, influencers, and other luminaries come together to talk about the past as well as the future, inspired by Washington’s extraordinary life, achievements, and character.
Melissa Wood: 703.799.5203