Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization (501c3) founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham. The Association is the oldest national historic preservation organization in the country, and it has always been in the forefront of the restoration field. It is directed by a Board of Regents, comprised solely of women, who represent nearly 30 states. Also, a Board of Advisors of prominent citizens from across the country convenes twice a year to provide additional input on Mount Vernon's governance. The estate, gift shops and dining facilities are operated by over 500 paid employees and over 400 volunteers.
Mount Vernon is the most popular historic estate in America and is open 365 days a year. Over 80 million people have visited Mount Vernon since 1860, when the estate was officially opened to the public. Mount Vernon welcomes an average of one million guests each year.
The estate, gardens and farm of Mount Vernon totaled some 8,000 acres in the 18th century. Today, nearly 500 acres of this historic property have been preserved along the banks of the Potomac River. Guests can see Washington’s mansion and other original structures. The estate also includes the tomb of George and Martha Washington, a memorial dedicated to the slaves who lived and worked on the estate, the Ford Orientation Center, and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center which includes 25 theaters and galleries, and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes. Primary sources of income are revenue from the retail and dining facilities, ticket sales, and donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals.