In 1926, "The Pearl King" visited Mount Vernon and enjoyed a grated meditation at the tranquil site of Washington's Tomb. "Mikimoto often went to the little shrine at Toba [his home] to report to his ancestors... on the progress he was making. Consequently, it was perfectly natural for him to visit what he considered the shrine of the American people and report to their Number One ancestor," noted Robert Eunson in his biography of Mikimoto.
Just a few years after Mikimoto's celebrated tour of the United States - which included a visit with his hero Thomas Edison - Mrs. Woodrow Wilson visited Mikimoto on Tatoku Island in Japan and presented the inventor with a miniature sculpture of Mount Vernon. Inspired, Mikimoto spent the next 15 months crafting the pearl Mansion.
The 1933 World's Fair
In 1933, the pearl model was presented as a gift to the people of the United States and exhibited at the Chicago Exposition. A part of the Century of Progress exhibit, the model was described as a "tribute of Mr. K. Mikimoto to the friendships existing between Japan and the United States." It was then valued at $500,000.
After the Exposition, Mikimoto donated the model to the Smithsonian Institution.