Vice President, Media & Communications
His Excellency Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France to the United States, will unveil the newly-restored Marquis de Lafayette Bedchamber on Bastille Day during a special ceremony at George Washington’s Mount Vernon alongside Mount Vernon CEO Doug Bradburn. The ceremony also will feature remarks from renowned Lafayette reenactor, Benjamin Goldman, and a discussion of the bedchamber’s renovations and historical significance by Mount Vernon’s Executive Director of Historic Preservation and Collections, Susan P. Schoelwer.
The re-installation of the Lafayette Room at Mount Vernon is the culmination of an extensive multi-year project of research and cosmetic architectural treatments utilizing extensive documentary evidence, paint analysis, and other information to recover the room’s multilayered history and appearance. The nearly life-size portrait of Lafayette retains pride of place, while the distinctive wallpaper and furnishings signal the room’s use as a bedchamber for Lafayette and the people from many walks of life – from international guests to family of the Washingtons.
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette was a French general, a celebrated hero of the American Revolution, abolitionist, and a beloved friend of George Washington. Excited and intrigued by the United States’ goal of establishing a republic, Lafayette traveled to America and became a Major General in the Continental Army. After the American War of Independence, he returned to France and participated in the early years of the French Revolution, even sending George Washington the key to the infamous Bastille prison.
Washington commissioned a portrait of Lafayette in 1779 to hang at Mount Vernon, and after the Revolution, Lafayette paid an extended visit to Mount Vernon in 1784.
The restoration of the Lafayette Room was generously supported by Karen M. and Jefferson W. Kirby; The Florence Gould Foundation; The Felicia Fund; the Estate of Paul and Sally Houdayer; Mr. and Mrs. S. Dillard Kirby; the George L. Shields Foundation, Inc.; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; an anonymous donor; and others from across the country.