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One of Mount Vernon’s original 18th-century structures, the North Garden House, suffers from significant deterioration.

In 2018, Mount Vernon’s preservation team began to restore the North Garden House, located in the Upper Garden. This small, octagonal structure was built right after the Revolutionary War and used in a number of ways. Its primary function was likely as storage for tools and seeds. For a brief time, it also served as a schoolhouse where Washington’s step-grandchildren, Nelly and Washy Custis, were tutored. Today it features hundreds of signatures on the inside walls from people visiting during the late 19th century.

Structural Assessment

Mount Vernon's preservation team working to assess the North Garden House, MVLA.

Mount Vernon's preservation team working to assess the North Garden House, MVLA.

A holistic structural assessment was performed on the structure to determine the level of repair needed. This assessment included stripping paint, removing some of the siding boards, and performing a physical investigation of nails, framing, and plaster.

During this work, it was discovered that a significant amount of the building’s 18th-century framing still survives, but some of it has pronounced deterioration. In order to conserve and repair the framing and stabilize the structure, a significant amount of work must be done.

Plaster Conservation

Plaster in need of conservation, MVLA.

Plaster in need of conservation, MVLA.

Additionally, the plaster, which predates the Civil War, requires conservation. So as not to inflict further damage to the plaster or the signatures, the conservation treatment requires working from the exterior-facing side, by temporarily removing several siding boards.

After plaster conservation is complete, structural stabilization of the building’s framing can begin. Once all of the conservation and structural work is done, the preservation team will repair the roof to ensure it and the siding are weather tight to prevent future damage.

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Restoration Projects

Preservation work never ends. Each year Mount Vernon's experts restore parts of the Mansion and outbuildings.

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