One of the most perplexing issues regarding historic preservation is whether or not to install modern utility systems. Such was the case when the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association assembled at Mount Vernon in 1916 to discuss a proposal by Thomas Edison's firm to "electrify" the Mansion for the first time.

The kerosene lamps and candles then in use presented a serious fire hazard. Edison offered to set up a system powered by generator-fed storage batteries, at a cost of $3,325, with a "guarantee of absolute safety".

Although Association members were skeptical, fearing a loss of authenticity, the concern for safety prevailed. Edison's system was approved and installed.

Famous Visitors

Thomas Edison is just one of many notables who have visited Mount Vernon since Washington's time. See more famous visitors.

Modern Fire Prevention at Mount Vernon

Protecting Mount Vernon from the threat of fire is essential to ensure that George Washington's legacy can be preserved and experienced by many generations to come.

Help Us Preserve Mount Vernon
Buy Tickets What to See Calendar Shop Restaurant Donate Membership
Estate Hours

Open today from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save