Skip to main content

When looking at the portico fragment, consider the following questions:

  • What is this object? What is its purpose, if any?
  • How was this object found?
  • People often took artifacts or remnants from George Washington's house after visiting. Why do you think they did that?
    • What does this tell us about Washington's legacy?
  • The story of this object was passed down through oral history. What is oral history, and why might it be important?


This fragment came to Mount Vernon within the last decade, having an oral history of being a piece from the portico taken in 1860, two years after the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association acquired the property.

It is believed that the piece was taken by a visitor, which shows Mount Vernon’s position as an important landmark in the United States of America, as well as the common practice of historic sites being defaced and damaged with the aim of gaining keepsakes, something seen at sites all over the world.

It is a great reminder of the important work that the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has done to preserve the home of George Washington and educate generations on the lives and legacies of all who lived there. The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association was the first national historic preservation organization and is the oldest women's patriotic society in the United States. Its pioneering efforts in the field of historical preservation set an important precedent and have served as a model for many other museums and institutions.