The Cupola was built between 1783-1784. It is an eight sided, wooden structure that rises over fifteen feet above the roofline of Mount Vernon. The first modern renovation occurred in 1947 when the original spire (which had lasted 163 years) was replaced with the current one. A second, and more thorough, renovation was undertaken in 1994 when many of the cupola's original elements were removed, restored and then carefully replaced. Also during the restoration several samples of the cupola's original moldings were found. These samples were duplicated and re-installed to where they were located in the 18th century.
In addition to the cupola's exterior, the interior framing system was also restored to what it would have looked like in 1799 (it was significantly altered in 1869 when the Army Corps of Engineers stabilized the structure after the Civil War). In addition to the restoration work an intensive paint analysis was also performed and as a result the exterior and interior paint colors match the original colors that were used by George Washington.