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Preserving Washington's View at Mount Vernon

A Letter from President, Curt Viebranz

Dear Friend:

One aspect of the Mount Vernon experience is relished by visitors more than any other and it is the one that George Washington himself most appreciated.

The view from the Mansion’s piazza is as remarkable now as it was over 200 years ago. On a clear day, you can see a natural tapestry covering some 80 square miles. This expansive view so many have enjoyed over the past few centuries should not be taken for granted.

It was just over 50 years ago, as the post-war economy fueled a rash of development further and further from the nation’s capital, Washington’s magnificent view across the Potomac River was on the verge of succumbing to what Ann Pamela Cunningham had described as the “fingers of progress.” In 1955, land opposite in Maryland was slated for a major oil tank farm. And then the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission announced plans to construct a sewage treatment facility. All of those battles have been won in the past so we could all enjoy the same rich view the Washington’s and their guests enjoyed. However, vigilance is still called for, because the far ridge forests, as seen from Mount Vernon’s east lawn, remain unprotected.

We continue to work with many partners, including the Accokeek Foundation and the Conservation Fund, to ensure that the viewshed is not despoiled. I am personally spending a great deal of time to continue the efforts of my predecessor, Jim Rees. At the same time, you will all note from news reports that housing sales are picking up and so then will the pace of activity across the river in Maryland. We still have a lot to do.

We can’t stop progress, and we don’t want to, we just don’t want it to be visible from the most historic estate in the country!

Your gift today ensures that visitors for centuries to come can relax on the Piazza, and on a clear day, enjoy the majestic view that so many have diligently worked to protect.


Curt Viebranz