2019 Annual Report


The mission of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association 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 example of character and leadership will continue to inform and inspire future generations.

Regent Sarah Miller Coulson

Letter from the Regent

As I am writing this annual letter, Mount Vernon, like the rest of the nation and the world, is suffering from the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, which swept over the country in the first half of 2020. But even in the face of this challenge, it is worthwhile to reflect on the great successes of last year and recognize that Mount Vernon's mission is a longstanding continuum, not for one year, or one moment. Our goal is to preserve Washington’s beloved home not only for the present, but for future generations, and we find great strength in the continuity of our values and the persistence of our supporters during this trying period. Mount Vernon has endured prior financial panics, world wars, great depressions, and the more recent national crises, and as our last year's efforts demonstrate, we will adapt successfully in the future.

In her farewell address to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (MVLA), the association's founder, Ann Pamela Cunningham, remarked that our promises to maintain Washington's home "were pledges to future generations as well as to ours."

Our first Regent’s sentiments remain as relevant in 2019 as they were in 1874. The MVLA continues to preserve, restore, and manage the estate of George Washington and educate visitors about his example of character and leadership so that it may inspire future generations.

In 2019, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association successfully completed several major projects, including the restoration of the west front of the Mansion, the unveiling of the newly restored Front Parlor, and the construction of the new Linda Mars Livestock Facility.

The George Washington Teacher Institute celebrated twenty years of residential teacher programs, and we continue to expand our outreach to teachers and their students through our digital offerings.

The Washington Library was honored to receive an extraordinary gift from Richard H. Brown and Mary Jo Otsea containing an extensive collection of maps from both the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars.

As a private institution, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has always taken great care and responsibility with the funds we receive from private individuals. Since 1853 the American public has entrusted us with ensuring that Washington's legacy remains always.

We look forward to your exploration of this report and hope you will celebrate with us all that has been accomplished in the name of Washington.

Sarah Miller Coulson signature

Sarah Miller Coulson

Letter from the President

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has challenged Mount Vernon in 2020, but our mission remains as essential as it was when the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association rallied the nation to save the home of the father of our country. And as the country emerges from the challenges of fighting the pandemic, we will need the guiding example of George Washington's character, nonpartisan leadership, courage, and vision to continue to inspire Americans to serve and sacrifice to make our experiment in democracy flourish.

When George Washington became the first President, he noted as "an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

We are living in a period of low civic understanding. In some ways, this country is in a crisis of confidence. Faith in our institutions—in Congress, in the Presidency, in the justice system, in media, in universities—is polling at an all-time low. A recent poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of voting-age adults indicated that only 29% could name all three branches of government.

There has never been a better time for the moral leadership of George Washington than right now, and there is no place more suited to educate the public than Mount Vernon. In 2019, Mount Vernon welcomed more than 1 million visitors from across the nation and around the globe. Our commitment to education has never been more substantial; through our digital platforms, we reached 8 million people. Our George Washington Teacher Institute, this year in its 20th year, provides educators with the tools they need to teach students in the classroom.

We have seen the fruits of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington produce a tremendous body of scholarly work that is making its way to the public through a record number of books published on Washington and the nation's founding.

We are in the golden age of the individual’s pursuit of knowledge. With the abundance of information readily available to us, the need to study and know our history is more important than ever. Mount Vernon has not only become an icon of American preservation but a center for research and innovation. The vision of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to save George Washington’s home has enabled a place for learning, for understanding, and for debate. It’s a place to re-discover the ideals of this great experiment of democracy.

I am excited for you to explore all of the achievements highlighted in this report. Mount Vernon's benefactors are patriotic Americans who believe in and support our mission through their membership, ticket purchases, and donations. From our recent restorations in the Mansion to our educational outreach, none of these accomplishments would be possible without their support.

Douglas Bradburn signature

Douglas Bradburn, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Doug Bradburn, President and CEO

Preserving the Mansion & Historic Area

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The west from of the Mansion under scaffolding as the exterior is restored.

The most prized item in the MVLA’s collection is the Mansion itself. The 285-year-old wooden structure is exposed to the elements and subject to environmental wear. In 2019, work was completed to strip the west front of the Mansion down to its original wooden boards, make necessary repairs, and refinish the rusticated siding using the same methods and materials as in Washington’s time.

A view of the nearly restored front parlor

With new clues from a manuscript acquisition, in-depth research, and advances in forensic science, the Historic Preservation and Collections team restored the Mansion’s Front Parlor back to its appearance during Washington’s lifetime.

Repairs are made to the North Garden house by a preservation carpenter

Located in the upper garden, the north garden house likely stored tools and seeds, but briefly also served as a schoolhouse for Washington’s step-grandchildren. Restoration of this distinctive octagonal structure entailed thorough research, careful planning, and precise craftsmanship to preserve as much of the 18th-century fabric as possible.

Teaching America’s Story

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The George Washington Teacher Institute celebrated the 20th anniversary of its teacher residential programs. Since 1999 the program has expanded to meet the ever changing needs of classrooms around the country.

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The Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program is a highly selective six-week summer institute for rising college juniors that offers unparalleled learning. leadership development, and networking opportunities at Mount Vernon.

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Mount Vernon’s Research Fellowship Program offers long and short-term fellowships for trained scholars interested in producing scholarly work about the founding era.

Securing Our Future

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Livestock Facility Opening

On June 21, Mount Vernon held a “barn warming” fundraiser to celebrate the opening of our new barn complex, The Linda Mars Livestock Facility.

A crowd of people mingle during the barn's grand-opening event

Paris Conference

Mount Vernon convened in Paris a group of one hundred scholars, practitioners, supporters, and friends to explore the long connection between the United States of America and the Republic of France.

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Spirit of Mount Vernon

This signature event—in its 18th year—brought together representatives from the Washington, DC corporate, association, and government affairs communities, along with guests from Capitol Hill and the administration.

Event attendees chat during the spring Life Guard event

The Life Guard Society's Spring Event

The Life Guard Society is named after the elite group of soldiers responsible for ensuring the safety of George Washington. The group’s spring reception raised funds to create a virtual reality tour of Mount Vernon for students in classrooms around the country.

An attendee at the Life Guard fall event uses a headset to experience virtual reality

The Life Guard Society's Fall Event

The fall gala of the Life Guard Society brought together supporters of Mount Vernon to raise funds for the revitalization of the Education Center.

Members of the Founders committee smile at the camera

The Founders Committee is made up of patriotic women from the Washington, DC area. At the spring reception funds were raised to support The Martha Washington Papers Project.

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Connoisseur Society

The Connoisseur Society is a group of George Washington enthusiasts who are dedicated to supporting the acquisition, preservation, and conservation of Mount Vernon’s rich and diverse collections enjoy unique travel experiences. This year’s autumn trip toured Hudson River Valley sites related to George Washington.

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Neighborhood Friends are members who live on one of George Washington’s original five farms.

Attendees pose for the camera at the Birthnight Ball event

Birthnight Ball

This special black-tie event celebrates the birth of our founding father, George Washington.

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Patriotic businesses from around the nation provide critical support for Mount Vernon’s mission of historic preservation, education, and preserving the legacy of George Washington.

A couple in costume pose during the MV underground masquerade event.


The MVunderground and young patrons in the DC area come together for a moonlit masquerade fundraising event in support of our founding father, George Washington, and his beloved home, Mount Vernon.

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Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection

The Washington Library is gifted with a rare collection.

a detail of a historic letter

Special Collections Highlights

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington continued to expand its resources for researchers and scholars. This year’s acquisitions include rare manuscripts from the Washington family, new rare books, and one of the largest Revolutionary War maps collections.

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The Historic Preservation and Collections team acquired almost 100 new objects in the fine and decorative arts collection. Highlights include a quilt hand-made by Martha Washington, more than a dozen original items from the Washingtons’ kitchen, an important historical painting of the surrender at Yorktown, and an exact replica of the harpsichord played by Nelly Custis.

Thank you.

Our 2019 accomplishments were made possible by generous contributions from patriotic individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association relies on this support and does not accept government funding. We are grateful for your commitment to our mission.

All contributions to Mount Vernon are tax-deductible under the limits of the law. The support of many generous individuals, corporations, and foundations listed on the previous pages is deeply appreciated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Please note that these lists represent a donor’s total gifts in 2019 and do not include purchases of tickets or event donations. Although every effort has been made to include all donors who support Mount Vernon with a gift of $250 or more, omissions and errors occasionally occur. Furthermore, we reserve the right to edit listings in order to comply with our organizational style guide. We would appreciate corrections and additions forwarded to the Senior Vice President for Development, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, P.O. Box 110, Mount Vernon, VA 22121.

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Extraordinary annual contributions of $25,000 and above

Annual Supporters


Annual Supporters


Annual Supporters


Cumulative Lifetime Giving

Cumulative contributions to Mount Vernon of $250,000 and above since our modern record keeping began in 1986

Multi-Year Supporters

Extraordinary pledge payments of $25,000 or above

Ann Pamela Cunningham Society

Individuals who have remembered Mount Vernon in their estate plans or have provided for a planned gift

Memorial Gifts

Special gifts made in memory of the these individuals

Matching Gifts

Corporations and foundations that match gifts from their employees and board members


Volunteers contribute their time and expertise to all departments

Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Records

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