Cast your controversy-free vote today!

B&W Mount Vernon. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

This photo from our 2009 visit to Mount Vernon is probably my favourite of all I’ve taken—a large version of it hangs in our entry.

I’m a big fan of privately-operated preservation efforts, and right now, one of my favourite places in America—George Washington’s Mount Vernon—is in the running for a $100,000 grant from Partners in Preservation!

Partners in Preservation—a program joining together American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—has already given $9 million dollars’ worth of grants to historic sites in cities like Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Chicago. The Washington, D.C. area (beyond wealthy in historic places) was chosen as the 2013 grants, which will total $1 million—and Partners in Preservation wants the help of the citizenry in choosing the place worthy of the $100K grant! (Once that is awarded to the people’s choice, the remainder of the million will be given to sites chosen by an advisory committee.)

“Great cities are a reflection of their neighborhoods and landmarks,” said Kenneth I. Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express. “The places where people work, worship and reflect often define those neighborhoods, and our work with Partners in Preservation has taught us that maintaining local historic places for future generations is one of the best ways to make great cities even greater.” (via)

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, river side. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Just so you know, I was nearly blown down the hill into the Potomac taking this photo of Mount Vernon. This can be a dangerous gig.

is seeking the grant to help finance their  restoration of the magnificent dining room, also called “the new room”, in the main house.

As the first room that today’s visitors see as they enter the Mansion, the New Room makes a bold impression with its vibrant green color and elegant furnishings.
Despite its significance, the room hasn’t undergone a major renovation in more than 30 years.  With this restoration effort, which launched in January, Mount Vernon staff and visiting experts will repair the plaster, woodwork, painting, and wallpaper.  They will also tend to the collection of prints, paintings, and objects on view in the room.

If you’ve ever been to Mount Vernon, no doubt you, too, find the “new room”, with its verdigris green walls and intricate trim, unforgettable and impressive. The room’s genteel yet grand elegance was very intentional on the part of General Washington, who understood the power of such beauty and style. Moreover, the room said much about the man himself and how he viewed the young nation which had required so many of his (and Martha’s) best years: the art focused on America’s rich landscape, for instance, and after those brilliantly coloured walls, the paintings Washington acquired are the items that leave the greatest impression.

Mount Vernon's threshing barn. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

George Washington’s 16-sided threshing barn.

(Unfortunately, even I, George Washington fan with nearly every biography of him ever published and photographer, can’t take photos inside the mansion, but there’s a lovely image of the New Room—so called because it is the last room in the house Washington worked on before his death in 1799—near the bottom of this post; more photos here.)

Voting actually began April 24; unfortunately, I didn’t learn about this until late last week. See what falling off a stepladder will do to you? The final day to vote is May 10, and unlike a lot of contests that make you wait around to learn who won, Partners In Preservation will announce the popular vote winner May 13!

Voting takes place here, at Partners in Preservation. It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it’s easy to do. Right now, my choice—Mount Vernon—is in a rather close back-and-forth stretch battle with the Washington National Cathedral (also a worthy cause, but…I adore Mount Vernon). Each vote gives

Portico of Mount Vernon. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved

Portico of Mount Vernon.

fifty points to your site of choice—and also, as a sweetener, earns you an entry for one of ten three-night stays at the Marriott of your choice. Not bad for doing something so
simple! Don’t forget, you can vote once every day.

And if you don’t mind my nudging you…please, vote for Mount Vernon! In the meantime, do check out the official blog for the New Room’s restoration, The New Room Renewed; the team also has a special Twitter feed just for the project.

A couple of folks suggested that removing my camera and adding some vintage tinting to this photo of myself at Mount Vernon in December 2010 would make it look downright authentic, so…what the heck. Sometimes, you have to humour your fans. And yes, that coat is hideous…but it is WARM!


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