“I have not houses to build, except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security of my military, civil and private papers, which are voluminous and may be interesting.”
-- Letter from George Washington to his friend James McHenry, April 1797.
Looks like Washington’s plans are finally being realized, more than 200 years later.
The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will open at his Mount Vernon estate in northern Virginia on Sept. 27, 2013, housing thousands of rare books and historical manuscripts owned or written by the country’s first Commander in Chief, the trust announced Thursday.
The 45,000-square-foot library will open on the estate grounds, and will serve as an education and outreach center for scholars and historians. The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which owns and maintains the estate, raised more than $106 million in private money in three years for the project.
"No president in American history deserves the honor of an official library more than our first chief executive, nor is there a better story to tell," said Curt Viebranz, Mount Vernon president. "This library will share Washington's leadership lessons for generations to come."
According to the trust, the library's general collection will include:
- More than 12,000 books, journals, audio-visual items and electronic files
- 2,500 rare books, including 54 titles and 105 volumes owned by Washington
- 6,000 historical manuscripts
- 5,000-plus items such as scrapbooks, photos, postcards and memorabilia from Washington's life as a surveyor, plantation owner, military leader and president.
Here are photos of some of the items on display at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.