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Mount Vernon Advances Its Preservation and Conservation Mission with Expanded Team & Integrated Strategy

Mon, 01/14/2013

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2013

Media Contact:
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203

Mount Vernon Advances Its Preservation and Conservation Mission with Expanded Team & Integrated Strategy

“The mission of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is to preserve, restore and manage the estate of George Washington to the highest standards and to educate visitors and people throughout the world about the life and legacies of George Washington, so that his example of character and leadership will continue to inform and inspire future generations.”

MOUNT VERNON, VA – Since taking possession of George Washington’s historic estate in 1860, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has been guided by a joint mission of preservation and education. As the Association advances its education agenda with the development of a new library, it is simultaneously reaffirming its historic preservation mission through a new organizational structure.  All collections, restoration and preservation initiatives—from objects acquisitions to historic structure repairs to documentation and electronic  outreach—will fall under the newly-created Department of Historic Preservation and Collections.

With this expanded and enhanced department, Mount Vernon will foster a comprehensive approach to historic preservation at Mount Vernon, uniting the historic architecture, historic collections, archaeological sites, and historic landscape and gardens in a comprehensive, holistic manner.
 “Whether we are conserving an object or restoring a historic structure, the same principles and goals of preservation are in play,”  said Curt Viebranz, Mount Vernon’s president & CEO.  “By unifying our team, we are positioning ourselves to develop and execute preservation initiatives in a more integrated way. This realignment also enables us to communicate more effectively about our discoveries and their applications across many disciplines and to many different audiences.”

To lead the integrated department, Mount Vernon tapped its senior collections official, Carol Borchert Cadou, to serve as vice president for historic preservation and collections. A recognized expert in 18th-century material culture, fine and decorative arts, Cadou has enhanced Mount Vernon’s reputation as a leader in the field of historic interiors, collections preservation and conservation since first arriving at the estate in 1999 as Mount Vernon’s curator.   In her new role, Cadou will oversee all efforts and initiatives related to the estate’s historic buildings, historic gardens & landscapes, archaeology, artifacts, and fine & decorative arts.

Cadou, who began her preservation career at Historic Charleston Foundation, compares Mount Vernon’s efforts to those of that revered South Carolina institution as well as to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association led the nation’s historic preservation efforts with its founding in 1853 to preserve George Washington’s estate and the legacy of the country’s first—and arguably most important—president.  The National Trust and Historic Charleston Foundation were both established in the century that followed, and the three have offered a road map to the country on a wide range of key preservation issues.   I’m both honored and delighted to be heading the talented team that will continue to lead the nation’s preservation efforts at Mount Vernon using George Washington and his remarkable estate as a guide.“

To support Cadou, Mount Vernon promoted Dr. Esther White to the new position of director, historic preservation and research. A 23-year veteran of Mount Vernon’s archaeology department, White will oversee a growing team of archaeology and preservation specialists, including a soon-to-be added architectural historian and architectural conservator.  The expanded department will also include a new geographic information systems (GIS) manager, who will work closely with the estate’s horticulture department to digitally map the estate’s historic buildings, gardens and grounds.

The creation of this integrated department comes just as Mount Vernon embarks on one of its most ambitious conservation and preservation projects to date, the restoration of the “New Room,” one of the Mansion’s most admired and recognized spaces, which has been interpreted as a large formal dining room.  The $600,000 project begins this month and will conclude in early 2014.

These steps to expand the team and reaffirm Mount Vernon’s preservation mission are also timed to coincide with the development of a new strategic plan, a process that Mount Vernon will undertake in 2013.

They are also designed to allow for new scholarly pursuits from visiting researchers who travel to Mount Vernon to utilize the resources of the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which opens in fall 2013. Two of the seven scholars who comprise the Library’s inaugural class of fellows will pursue historic preservation-focused studies during their time in residence at the estate.

“Mount Vernon has always been a leader in historic preservation, and we are now stepping up our commitment to this key aspect of our mission by integrating our preservations and collections efforts, and by exploring new ways to make their findings more available and accessible,” said Ann Bookout, Regent, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, noting that, “In addition to marking 160 years of preservation in America, the year 2013 promises to be an exciting and dynamic one for Mount Vernon’s future in the field of preservation.”


Public Information: 703-780-2000; 703-799-8697 (TDD);
Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, 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.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital. 
Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $17.00; senior citizens, $16.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $8.00; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.