• The grand opening ceremony for the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

  • Kathleen deLaski at the grand opening ceremony of The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

  • Local students on a school field trip to Mount Vernon.

  • The Foundation supported “A Leader’s Smile,” a gallery featuring George Washington’s dentures that tells the lifelong challenges he had with dental issues.

  • The Foundation supported “We Fight to be Free,” a 23-minute dramatic orientation film shown in a seated auditorium at the visitor center.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens

Arts & History

Educating visitors and people throughout the world about the life and legacies of George Washington.

The foundation supports Mount Vernon through the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, founded in 1853, whose mission is to preserve, restore and manage the estate of George Washington to the highest standards and to educate visitors and people throughout the world about the life and legacies of George Washington, so that his examples of character and leadership will continue to inform and inspire future generations.

One of the largest and oldest organizations led by women, the Association was created to save Washington’s Mount Vernon home from the indignity of poor upkeep and potential ruin. It owns and maintains the estate in trust for all people to enjoy.


Mount Vernon realizes that knowledge and appreciation of George Washington and America’s founding era have declined significantly over the past half century. Washington’s face is still the most recognized of historic figures, but surveys reveal that his achievements are little known and his stature as an American icon is being threatened.

Believing that Washington’s life still reflects the epitome of American leadership and character, Mount Vernon aims to combat the decline in awareness through its educational mission. Mount Vernon strives to keep Washington relevant to current and future generations by promoting his most prominent character traits – moral values, undaunted courage, unabashed patriotism, and a complete commitment to what is best for the country – which are continually important in American history and society.


The family and foundation have supported Mount Vernon’s growing educational mission. Over the past 25 years, Mount Vernon has built a comprehensive program for K-12 teachers and students while advancing scholarly pursuits about America’s first president and the founding era. Mount Vernon offers professional development courses for teachers, has developed and distributed millions of teaching kits nationwide, and has produced 16 distance learning telecasts reaching up to 13 million students per production.

More than 1 million visitors annually begin their tour with the Foundation-supported educational and dramatic orientation film, “We Fight to Be Free.” The foundation has committed support the planned National Library for the Study of George Washington, a facility that will significantly aid the continued growth and substance of Mount Vernon’s educational outreach. This new library will be a worldwide repository for knowledge about Washington, his papers, achievements, and legacies, combining scholarly research with state-of-the-art technology to broaden Mount Vernon’s impact.

About the President & CEO

James C. Rees, who recently retired, was an inspirational and visionary President & CEO for Mount Vernon for 18 years. He sought to elevate George Washington’s standing as a leader while also helping Mount Vernon’s visitors “discover the real George Washington” while bringing living history to a new level of excellence and educational impact for all ages. Jim left Mount Vernon on a sound foundation for becoming increasingly relevant in the educational arena.

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