THE FRED W. SMITH NATIONAL LIBRARY FOR THE STUDY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON AT MOUNT VERNON
In 1797, General George Washington wrote a letter to his friend, James McHenry, expressing his desire to someday build a library in which to house his books and papers. Washington did not live to see that dream become a reality, but thanks to an outpouring of support from patriotic citizens, foundations, and corporations, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association opened a magnificent new building to serve that very purpose—and a much broader one—on September 27, 2013. Located on a fifteen-acre site just outside the main entrance to the Mount Vernon estate, the 45,000-square-foot Library safeguards the original Washington books and manuscripts. It also serves as a center for new and ongoing scholarly research, educational outreach, and leadership training inspired by Washington’s example.
WHAT THEY HAD
After the campaign was fully funded, the plans for the new building began that would eventually house approximately 500 of Washington’s letters, ledgers, farm books and account books along with family collections, including the Martha Washington Papers, and 103 original volumes that once rested on Washington’s custom bookcases in his Mount Vernon study. The books, however, represent only a slice of Washington’s complete library, which included more than 900 titles and 1,200 volumes by the time of his death. The books stored in the Fred W. Smith National Library include those that remained in the Washington family along with those repurchased by Mount Vernon.
STEPS TO SOLVE
Spacesaver worked closely with both the client and the construction company to design the unique storage solution for preservation of the priceless collection. This included shelving for rare books and manuscripts, map cases for ledger files, fire proof safes and other specialized storage to preserve the materials for generations to come. In addition, the client chose rich wild cherry end panels to complete the historical atmosphere for these valuable belongings.
The custom museum storage solution preserves the rare books and artifacts and provides a safe, easily accessible and organized solution for the researchers to the library.