Tucked away in the upper garden, the north garden house is an architectural gem with a personal connection to Mount Vernon and the Washington family.
This small, octagonal structure was built in 1785, soon after the Revolutionary War ended. Its primary function was likely as storage for tools and seeds. For a brief time, however, it also served as a schoolhouse where Martha Washington's grandchildren, Nelly and Washy Custis, were tutored. Today the structure also features hundreds of signatures on the inside walls, left by guests visiting Mount Vernon during the late 19th century.
Removal of worn-out roof shingles revealed that the structure’s frame had been damaged by moisture penetration and rodent infestation. A thorough assessment determined that despite pronounced deterioration of some members, a significant among of the 18th-century framing survives.
The preservation of the exterior concluding in 2020, has entailed painstaking reinforcement of the building’s frame and execution of targeted repairs and replacements to ensure continued structural integrity. The interior plaster, which predates the Civil War, received initial treatment to stabilize it, to be followed by more in-depth conservation at a later date.
The restoration of the North Garden House was generously supported by an anonymous foundation; the Marietta McNeill Morgan & Samuel Tate Morgan, Jr. Trust; the Roller-Bottimore Foundation; the George L. Shields Foundation, Inc.; the Richard and Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust; and the Christine and Jaime Yordán Foundation.
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