New Presidential Library Devoted to George Washington
MOUNT VERNON, Va., April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Historic Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, today broke ground on the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington with a ceremony featuring remarks by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, an appearance by "George Washington," and a wide range of patriotic music.
For the first time ever, Mount Vernon's vast collection of George Washington's books, manuscripts and archival materials will be organized, conserved and made available in the National Library. In addition to safeguarding Washington's books and manuscripts, the 45,000 square foot National Library will serve as a scholarly retreat, create educational outreach programs on Washington, and provide seminars and training programs with a special focus on Washington's leadership. Destined to be a George Washington "think tank," the $47 million National Library is expected to be completed in 2013.
"We expect to create the world's intellectual headquarters for everything to do with George Washington," said Mount Vernon's president, James Rees. "By encouraging new research, aggressively reaching out to families across the nation, and hosting conferences that stress Washington's leadership as the gold standard, we hope to touch the hearts and minds of each new generation."
As conveyed in a letter to a friend, a retired George Washington intended to build one last structure on his estate for his papers, but that plan was never realized – until now. The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will be located on a 15 acre site within walking distance of Washington's home. It will house more than 15,000 items including 2,500 rare 18th and 19th century books, 87 books that were owned by Washington, and 500 letters, ledgers, and account books that bear George Washington's writing or signature. A modest residence for visiting scholars, authors and interns will be constructed next to the National Library.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which purchased the estate from the Washington family in 1858, is unusual in that it receives no funds from the local, state, or federal governments. Although plans for the National Library have been in the works for years, the project is now able to move forward thanks to a $38 million gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation which was presented last year. The Foundation's gift is the largest in Mount Vernon's history, which ranks as the oldest and most visited national preservation project in America.
As the longtime chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Fred W. Smith has championed a number of initiatives related to George Washington, including a grant to purchase the famous Lansdowne portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. In addition, under Smith's leadership, the Foundation has supported the construction of a museum and education center at Mount Vernon, a pair of major traveling exhibitions about Washington, and special programs focusing on Washington for students and teachers across the nation.
"We are pleased to be assisting the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in building this important project to facilitate research, outreach, and the dissemination of knowledge about George Washington," stated Fred W. Smith, Chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. "I very much appreciate the tribute that my fellow Trustees and the Ladies' Association have bestowed upon me in naming the new library in my honor."
Within the National Library, teachers, historians and scholars will have the opportunity to study original letters and manuscripts penned in Washington's own hand. The heart of the National Library will be devoted to the main reading room, rare books and manuscript rooms, and stacks for modern volumes. The larger education wing on the east side will provide spaces for seminars, lectures and training programs on George Washington's life, times and remarkable leadership. Offices in the west wing and on the second floor will supply work spaces for visiting scholars and staff members.
The groundbreaking marks a significant milestone in The Campaign for the Library, an effort organized by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association to support the operation, maintenance of the structure, programs and new staff positions. Other leadership donors to the Campaign for the Library are Mr. and Mrs. Richard DeVos and Mr. and Mrs. John Mars. To date, approximately $70 million has been raised towards the campaign's $100 million goal.
About Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington's place in history as "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen." Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, America's oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation's capital.
Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE. Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.
About the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
The Donald W Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded by the late media entrepreneur for whom it was named. Reynolds was the founder and principal owner of the Donrey Media Group. When he died in 1993, the company included over 70 businesses, the majority of which were in the communications/media field. Headquartered in Las Vegas, the Reynolds Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. For more information visit online at www.dwreynolds.org.
SOURCE Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens