Revitalize the Mansion

We are now embarking on a major Mansion Revitalization effort which will strengthen the Mansion's foundation, preserve original architecture, open new areas of interpretation, and create documentation that will mark this as one of the biggest restoration efforts in Mount Vernon's history. 

DONATE NOW

 

Big News: Construction in the Mansion has Begun!

After extensive investigation, design, and planning, the construction phase of the landmark Mansion Revitalization Project is underway.

We are now ready to begin work to strengthen the Mansion's timber frame and masonry foundation!

This work is extensive and we will rely on your dedicated support every step of the way.

Our team has begun beneath the New Room— removing the previously installed brick and slate inserts and replacing them with carefully crafted wood sills to reestablish strong connections between the walls, floor, and foundation.

The New Room will remain closed until August when it will re-open for the remainder of the Mansion Revitalization Project, giving students and guests the opportunity to visit this Mansion signature room.

Our Founding Floorboards

Our Director of Preservation, Thomas A. Reinhart, led his team into an extensive investigation utilizing documentation and close hands-on analysis of the New Room floorboards to verify they were, indeed, the originals from 1785.

That is right! When visitors tour the New Room, they are walking on the same floorboards as George Washington and other individuals who framed this great nation.

By supporting this phase of the Mansion Revitalization project, you are enabling us to strengthen the framing so present and future generations can continue to build on the strong foundation they left us.

In 2013, Thomas Reinhart (left) made the revolutionary discovery that the floorboards in the New Room were original to Washington. Thanks to your support, these founding beams will continue to be preserved for generations.

Year-End Progress Update

Wash House Restoration

Our Preservation team is committed to preserving the historic structures at Mount Vernon. Unlike modern homes, their goal is not to replace what is old with what is new. Our preservation carpenters often use historic methods and painstaking processes to ensure they can preserve as much of the historic structure as possible.

The Wash House restoration began with shoring the building in place—constructing a scaffolding system to support the weight of the wall.

Carpenters then cut the connections between the sill and the vertical posts and studs, allowing the deteriorated part of the sill to be pulled out.

In its place, they inserted a new sill, cut to size from a white oak tree felled on the estate several years ago. To re-attach the studs and posts to the new sill, the team painstakingly designed specific techniques—from wooden lap joints to metal L-brackets—to address particular situations.

The restoration of the Wash House not only provides it with a strong building frame, but also a valuable, hands-on test run of procedures that will be repeated to carry out the much larger-scale sill repairs of the Mansion Revitalization project.

The groundwork is now completed for the utility bunker with the landscape restored following the excavations.

Why does Mount Vernon need a new HVAC system?

Over the years, fluctuations in humidity levels within the cellar have damaged the original sandstone walls. Evidence of that deterioration can be seen in the accumulation of sand at the base of the wall. (MVLA)

Over the years, fluctuations in humidity levels within the cellar have damaged the original sandstone walls. Evidence of that deterioration can be seen in the accumulation of sand at the base of the wall. (MVLA)

Installing a new HVAC system will accomplish several things:

1. Mount Vernon had installed an HVAC system in 1999; it is now outdated and inefficient.

2. The new HVAC system will provide climate control for the cellar for the first time in its history. Over many years, humidity in the cellar has damaged some original materials, particularly soft Aquia sandstone blocks used in the original foundations. The new system will address fluctuating humidity levels, creating a more stable environment.

3. Each room of the Mansion has distinct environmental needs, based on its location relative to the exterior and the amount of sunlight received. By creating multiple environmental zones, the HVAC system will provide more precise environmental control in individual rooms. The new system will also increase the capacity for both humidification and dehumidification.

4. HVAC ductwork in the cellar will be relocated underground and out of sight, facilitating improved stewardship and interpretation. Mount Vernon preservation staff will be able to conduct maintenance on the cellar’s west wall, which is currently inaccessible. Removal of the ducts will also allow for a full and accurate interpretation of the cellar. In George Washington’s time, the cellar was used for a variety of functions, including the storage of supplies and foodstuffs. There is also evidence the cellar housed a kitchen for the individuals assigned to serve the Washington household, and it probably served as quarters for an enslaved man named Frank Lee, who is known to have acted in the capacity of “butler,” and his family. 

Learn more about the cellar

Digging Up History

Before this first phase broke ground, we started with an archaeological dig and found some exciting treasures that we want to share with you.

Sealed 18th-century Bottles

Archaeologists working in the cellar of the Mansion unexpectedly discovered two intact European-manufactured bottles. The dark green glass bottles were found upright and sealed, each containing liquid. The bottle shapes are characteristic of styles from the 1740s – 1750s and were recovered from a pit where they may have been forgotten and eventually buried beneath a floor laid in the 1770s.

Domino

One particularly exciting discovery was a small piece of domino likely from the early 19th century. This is the first domino fragment found in an archaeological excavation; a nearly complete domino was found in the 1930s during construction work. It is common practice at Mount Vernon to do archaeology before breaking any ground.

U.S. Army Artillery Corps Button

The military connection at Mount Vernon remains strong! During excavations at the north end of the Mansion, a second War of 1812-era U.S. Army Artillery Corps button was recovered. This button was among the first series of U.S. military regalia to feature an American eagle.

Wine Seal

Recently, our team found a wine seal bearing the name of John Posey, who was once George Washington’s neighbor. Bottles with seals like this were seen as signs of gentility, wealth, and individuality among the planter class. The bottle with this seal may have been brought to Mount Vernon by Posey for a social event or it may have arrived after Washington purchased property from Posey in 1769.

Utility Bunker – Completed

We’ve kicked off the first phase of this Revitalization Project with the expansion of the underground utility bunker. This critical expansion will:

  • Provide additional access to the historic cellar which will allow for greater interpretation into this hidden hub of Mansion operations.
  • Control the humidity and temperature with room by room zoning - which will preserve the architectural fabric as well as priceless objects on display.
  • Preserve the historic fabric of the Mansion by upgrading obsolete HVAC systems.

This is just the beginning of our preservation journey together. Please give generously so we can Revitalize the Mansion so it is ready to welcome millions of visitors in celebration of America's 250th birthday in 2026.

DONATE NOW
Login
Buy Tickets Activities Calendar Shop Restaurant Give Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save