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One of Mount Vernon’s original 18th-century structures, the North Garden House, suffered 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

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.

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

Plaster Conservation

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 required working from the exterior-facing side, by temporarily removing several siding boards.

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

Plaster in need of conservation, MVLA.

Restoration Projects

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

Learn more