Twelfth Regent (1982-1986)

Helen Sharp was born in Ennis, Texas, on June 10, 1916. She was the daughter of Texas Supreme Court Justice John Henry Sharp and the granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Sharp, who came to Texas from Alabama by wagon train and lived to be the oldest survivor of the Civil War battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac.

In 1938, a year after graduating from the University of Texas, Helen married Houston attorney Thomas Dunaway Anderson. Mr. Anderson was a charter member of the Life Guard Society of Mount Vernon, a leadership-and-support group that takes its name from the select circle of soldiers who protected General Washington during the Revolutionary War; he served from 1990 to 1998. In 1992 Mrs. Anderson’s daughter Lucille (Mrs. Richard H. Streeter) was elected Vice Regent for the District of Columbia and served until 2000.

Regent

Mrs. Anderson standing in front of George Washington's Mount Vernon mansion. MVLA.

Mrs. Anderson standing in front of George Washington's Mount Vernon mansion. MVLA.

After serving as Vice Regent for Texas since 1967, Mrs. Anderson was elected Regent in 1982 and reelected in 1985. She oversaw the final stage of the capital campaign initiated during the regency of Mrs. John H. Guy, Jr., which raised more than $11 million for essential projects at Mount Vernon. These included upgrading electrical, fire, and security systems; renovating the old administration building (and naming it in honor of the late Frances Payne Bolton, longtime Vice Regent for Ohio and influential member of Congress); and erecting the new, adjoining Ann Pamela Cunningham Administration Building.

Also during Mrs. Anderson’s administration, restoration of the historic paint colors in the Mansion was completed; the slave cemetery memorial was dedicated; the first professional, systematic, and anthropologically based archaeological study of Mount Vernon was begun; a new lighting system was installed in the Mansion; and funds were raised for a much-needed restoration of the Texas Gate, the estate’s main visitor entrance since 1899.

At the close of her productive tenure, Mrs. Anderson expressed her confidence that the “home of General Washington remains in safe and caring hands,” adding that the Association could “look forward to the future with a renewed sense of strength and vitality.” In 1986 she resumed her post as Vice Regent for Texas, retiring in 1991.

Slave Memorial

This sacred ground was used as a cemetery for those enslaved and a few free blacks who worked at Mount Vernon in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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