Philippe Étienne

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Following a multi-year project of research and cosmetic architectural treatments utilizing extensive documentary evidence, paint analysis, and other information, the Mansion’s renovated Lafayette Bedchamber was officially unveiled on July 14, 2022—otherwise known as Bastille Day. Mount Vernon was honored to partner with the French Embassy and welcome Ambassador Philippe Étienne, Mrs. Étienne, and additional embassy staff and guests on this important French national holiday.

The ceremony, held on the bowling green, included remarks from Mount Vernon CEO & President Douglas Bradburn, Ambassador Étienne, and the “Marquis de Lafayette” himself, who spoke elegantly of his personal relationship with General Washington.

Mount Vernon CEO & President Douglas Bradburn introduces Ambassador Philippe Étienne.

"It's not hyperbole to note that we, the United States, would not have won our national struggle for independence without French aid," Bradburn noted during his speech. "Here at Mount Vernon, the reality is embodied forcefully by the example of the great volunteer, the Marquis de Lafayette, who combined a dashing and boundless energy and courage with romantic enthusiasm for the cause of liberty. He bled in the cause of American freedom and gave generously and passionately to improve the world that he inherited, and he was beloved of the Washington family. His portrait, and his family portrait, hung in the front parlor, the room in the Mansion House reserved for family likenesses. He was an adopted son."

“It's a moving experience for me to see this restored room where the Marquis de Lafayette stayed," Ambassador Étienne noted. “And this room will remain a shining testimony to everything we owe this champion of freedom.”

Following public remarks, the delegation stopped at the key to the Bastille in the Mansion’s Central Passage and then proceeded to the Lafayette Bedchamber for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour with Executive Director of Historic Preservation & Collections Susan Schoelwer and Associate Curator Amanda Isaac.

The key to the Bastille, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington.

After a stroll through the Mansion, the party went to the Museum, where many notable French objects and maps were highlighted. In appreciation of the visit, Mount Vernon presented Ambassador Étienne with a copy of the Lafayette portrait that hangs in the bedchamber and museum.

The restoration of the Lafayette Room was generously supported by Karen M. and Jefferson W. Kirby; The Florence Gould Foundation; The Felicia Fund; the Estate of Paul and Sally Houdayer; Mr. and Mrs. S. Dillard Kirby; the George L. Shields Foundation, Inc.; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; an anonymous donor; and others from across the country.

Video tour the Lafayette Room

Bastille Day at Mount Vernon

We were honored to welcome His Excellency Philippe Étienne, Ambassador of France, to Mount Vernon this Bastille Day as we unveiled the restoration of the Lafayette Bedchamber.

French Visitors to Mount Vernon

Both during and after Washington's life, Mount Vernon has hosted a litany of French notables.

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