$38 Million Gift From Reynolds Foundation to Support New George Washington Library


Mount Vernon, Virginia — The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has pledged $38 million to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, to construct a new library destined to be the international headquarters for knowledge about America’s most famous founding father.

Construction of the 45,000 square foot facility, which will be named the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, is expected to begin in early 2011, with a completion date in 2012.  The facility will be tucked into the woods across from Mount Vernon’s conservation complex and within walking distance of the Mansion itself.

As the nation’s first and only center for amassing and disseminating knowledge about Washington, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will safeguard Washington’s books and manuscripts, serve as a scholarly retreat, create educational outreach programs on Washington, and provide seminars and training programs with a special focus on Washington’s leadership.

As the longtime chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Fred W. Smith has championed a number of projects related to George Washington, including the purchase of the famous Lansdowne portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.  In addition, under Smith’s leadership, the Foundation has supported the construction of a museum and education center at Mount Vernon, a pair of major traveling exhibitions about Washington, and special programs focusing on Washington for students and teachers across the nation.

“I am pleased and humbled that my fellow trustees have approved the award of this grant and the naming opportunity in my honor,” stated Smith.  “It is our hope that this new facility will be a tool that the staff at Mount Vernon and Washington scholars can use to keep his place in American History as not only the Father of our Country but arguably our greatest president of all time.”

The Foundation’s gift is the largest in the history of Mount Vernon, which ranks as the oldest and most visited national preservation project in America.  The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which purchased the estate from the Washington family in 1858 and opened it to the public in 1860, is unusual in that it receives no funds from the local, state, or federal governments.

“Fred Smith and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation have enabled us to remain a leader among historic sites around the globe, without calling upon the government for help,” noted Boyce Ansley, Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.  “Mount Vernon is a totally different and far more exciting educational experience because of their support.”

The idea for a facility that serves the role of George Washington’s presidential library is not a new one—it has been part of Mount Vernon’s master plan for several years.  Although Washington continues to be one of the most familiar faces in American history, numerous surveys and focus groups have revealed that a majority of Americans—particularly those in younger generations—know little about Washington’s achievements or personality.  Coverage of Washington in many history textbooks has declined to about 10 percent of what it was 50 years ago.  When one state’s high school students were recently asked the question, who was America’s first president, only 26 percent identified “George Washington” as the right answer.

Most American history scholars generally rank Washington as one of the nation’s three most important presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  “Few scholars would argue that Washington’s leadership and character still sets the gold standard,” noted James Rees, President of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  “He remains a very relevant role model, particularly as the nation faces a challenging time in its history.”

Although The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will house hundreds of manuscripts, books and other documents drafted and owned by Washington, the complete array of Washington’s written works, which number in the tens of thousands, are spread among collectors, both public and private, across America.  But Mount Vernon’s library will bring them all together in a complete digital record of letters to and from Washington, assembled by scholars at the University of Virginia over a period of some 40 years.  All the records related to The Papers of George Washington project will be transferred to the library at Mount Vernon when the last of approximately 90 volumes of letters is edited, roughly 15 years from now.

Until then, the library will provide a secure and environmentally friendly home to 45 books from Washington’s original library, as well as 450 letters and other manuscripts written in his hand.  The collection also includes approximately 1500 additional 18th-century books, as well as thousands of important 19th-century newspapers, manuscripts, and documents.  The bulk of the library stacks will be filled with modern books about Washington and the founding era, which will be made available to a much wider constituency.

Historians and authors will have a far easier time accessing the information in Washington’s writings, and Mount Vernon will more than double its library staff to provide expertise and assistance.  Serious researchers who are drafting articles, papers or books about Washington will be lodged in a convenient guest house adjacent to the Library, equipped with six bedrooms.

Simultaneously, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association hopes to create a Mount Vernon Press, which will publish new research on Washington, his family and his times, in both printed and digital versions.

A team of education and media experts will also move to the new Library, charged with the task of disseminating the research findings to the largest and most diverse audiences.  To accomplish this goal, the Association will form partnerships with universities, state school systems, patriotic societies, technology firms, movie producers, computer game creators, and others from both the public and private sectors.

The Library will also host small and medium-sized conferences and symposiums focusing primarily on leadership training.  Five meeting spaces will accommodate between 15 and 100 guests, working in tandem with two larger spaces across the street at the Mount Vernon Inn Complex—a Distance Learning Classroom that accommodates 40 participants in a high-tech environment and the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Auditorium with a capacity of 200 guests.

Over a period of three years, the Association is spending nearly $2 million to expand and improve its website technology, and thousands of period artifacts, books, and manuscripts will be included on the site.

The Association has also announced that it has entered the first phase of an $80 million capital campaign, with the commitment from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation providing almost half the goal.  In addition to building the Library and adjacent guest house, funds from the campaign will endow the Library’s operation, underwrite new positions, and create new programs, especially for students and teachers.

“We are pleased to be the lead donor in the Capital Campaign to build and endow the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington,” stated Steven Anderson, President of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.  “We believe that this facility will enhance educational outreach from Mount Vernon in much the same way that the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center expanded the onsite experience for visitors to the historic estate.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named.  Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed over $69 million in support of Mount Vernon.

Press Release from MountVernon.org

Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden

The Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden is located at the corner of North Lexington and Wilson Boulevard, at 850 North Lexington Street in Arlington, Virginia. This scenic and serene rose and botanical garden occupies approximately one acre of land and features over 135 different rose varieties and houses 2,500 plant species as well. Featured roses include Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, Floribunda, and miniature roses. The garden also hosts the latest All-American roses annually, showcasing the newest variety of roses at least one year before they become commercially available.

Bon Air Memorial Park also features an azalea garden, a shade garden, a sun garden, and an ornamental garden. Other amenities include picnic tables, charcoal grills, a babbling spring stream, a paved walking trail, tennis and basketball courts, an additional children’s playground. Cultural advice and guidance for the rose garden is provided by the Arlington Rose Foundation. Call (703) 358-4747 for more information.

This beautiful and fascinating garden is a brilliant and colorful local resource that truly proves Virginia is for lovers! Whether you are a botanical aficionado or an individual who simply wants to stop and smell the roses, the Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden is a must see this spring in Northern Virginia. Park hours are from Sunrise until half an hour after Sunset throughout the year.

Major League Sports Venues for Locals in the Northern Virginia Area

Are you thinking of moving to Northern Virginia? You might be wondering what you do after you move into your new home.  Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County are part of the Washington DC area, and this area provides a whole host of Major League Sports Venues for all types of sports fans in the area. Check out what this great area has to offer below!

The Washington Redskins

Established in 1937, the Washington Redskins are a professional American football team based in Washington D.C. that plays for the National Football League (NFL). The Washington Redskins play at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The team’s headquarters and training facility are at the Redskin Park in Ashburn, a community in Loudoun County, Virginia, near the Dulles International Airport. The Redskins have won five professional American football championships including two NFL Championships and three Super Bowls.


The Washington Wizards

Established in 1961, the Washington Wizards are a professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C. and were previously known as Washington Bullets until 1995. The Washington Wizards play for the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the team plays at the Verizon Center located on 7th Street in downtown Washington D.C.


The Washington Capitals

Established in 1974, the Washington Capitals are a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C. and are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Washington Capitals play at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood on 7th Street. Since their founding in 1974, the Caps have won their division title five times and the conference championship once.


D.C. United

Established in 1995, D.C. United is an American professional soccer club located in Washington, D.C. that plays for Major League Soccer (MLS). The team’s home field is at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK), owned by the District of Columbia and located near the Anacostia River.


The Washington Nationals

Based in Washington D.C. since 2005 as a replacement for earlier teams which had moved to Minnesota and Texas, the Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. and are a member of the Eastern Division of the National League of Major League Baseball (MLB). The team moved into the newly built Nationals Park in 2008, after playing their first three seasons in RFK Stadium, also occupied by D.C. United. The new park is located in Southeast D.C. near the Anacostia River.

No matter where you buy a home in Northern Virginia or D.C., the area has plenty to see and do for any and all sports fans alike!

If you want to learn more about buying real estate in Northern Virginia contact us at 703 765 0300.

Holiday Adventures around Northern VA

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Northern VA

I was born in Northern Virginia and have lived here most of my life, but I still find that there is no end of new things to do. When Christmas approaches in Northern Virginia, the Holiday Season is a great time to get out and see some of what the area has to offer. Julie and I have already started to enjoy some of the many sites of the season and I thought I’d share a bit with friends and soon to be friends who are considering moving to this area.


Just across the Potomac River from Alexandria VA is the National Convention Center at National Harbor. This recently developed area is home to many high-end shops and restaurants and makes a nice day-trip anytime. Julie and I visited ICE! a holiday display of ice sculptures. The attraction was billed as “a world unlike any other … a winter wonderland made entirely of ice. We explored ten different holiday scenes made from two million pounds of ice, including a life-sized Santa’s Workshop, a penguin village… and even ice slides that stood more than two stories tall! ICE! was created by a team of 40 artisans and sculptors.

ice tunnel

The tunnel had white branches that were covered in ice. Inside the exhibit the air was a chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. All visitors wore special blue parkas over their coats that kept us nice and warm.

penguin goofballs

My son Stuart and I goofed around at the penguins near the glass-like ice igloo. National Harbor can be seen from Alexandria, but a few nights ago we took a short drive around the Beltway to the Washington, DC Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, also known as the Mormon Temple.

Mormon Temple

The grounds of the Mormon Temple are open to all visitors during the Christmas season. This impressive church and its surrounding grounds shine brightly with nearly a half-million sparkling Christmas lights. Each night, a different local musical group performs a live concert in a state-of-the-art theater. Best of all: all events are free!

It’s hard for my little picture to really catch the brilliance of the winter night, but in both of these pictures you can see a representative of the Star of David shining in the distance over a Nativity Scene near the visitors’ center.

lights at Mormon Temple

We grabbed some photos outside and walked the grounds. There were plenty of people there, but the crowds were very polite and nice. The Mormon ushers and parking attendants were very welcoming to all who approached.

It was a chilly night, so we came in the visitor’s center to warm up. There were Christmas Trees from around the area, and I took Julie’s picture near the Mount Vernon tree. I really liked the trees with contributions from nations around the world. Those trees were themed by continents so there was a tree themed with decorations from Africa, from South American, from Europe and from Asia.

Another great spot to check out is the National Christmas Tree near the lawn of the Whitehouse near the Ellipse in Washington DC.

Washington Monument

We parked in front of the Washington Monument and then headed across the lawn toward the National Christmas Tree and National Menorah. On the way we passed an enormous Yule Log burning brightly to warm visitors. There is a parade of free entertainment and there are trees representing all the states and territories of the USA.

The National Christmas Tree is between the Washington Monument and the White House, but very close to the White House.

Whitehouse and me

About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty.
Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in
Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne.
Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in
Fairfax County.

A walk in Old Town Alexandria VA

leaves changing color
Lee Street in Fall

Early Autumn is a great time to talk a walk around Old Town Alexandria VA. It’s very pleasant because of the typically mild weather and leaves blazing with color. The picture above was taking from the front door of 115 N. Lee St. at the Torpedo Factory condos. The leaves have accumulated behind Alexandria’s Carlyle House. Residents at the Torpedo Factory are particularly fortunate because of their proximity to King St. and the waterfront. (The Torpedo Factory scored a perfect 100 Walk Score.)

a walk in Old Town
Old Town at the intersection of Lee and King

I like the mornings near the waterfront, before the tourists arrive.

Old Town Alexandria
Alleys of Old Town

One of the features of Old Town Alexandria are the cobblestone streets. There are only a few of them remaining. The fountains of Market Square are barely visible at the end of the alley.

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Farmer’s Market at Sherwood Hall Library

At the nearby Sherwood Hall Library every Tuesday the Farmer’s Market gathers many River Towers locals.

Get your flowers and veggies!

A selection of homemade pies and pastries.

Something for Everyone

The farmer’s market has locally grown organic fruits, vegetables and pies & pastries, all natural free-range meats, as well as crafts and other interesting items brought to us by farmers near the area.

Fresh squash & zucchini in early summer!

Just off the stalk corn and freshly picked beans.

Sailing the Potomac in late spring

Julie and I went sailing again. This time we put in at the Belle Haven Marina near Belle View condos and New Alexandria.

boat launch at Belle Haven Marina

The marina has plenty of sailboats, canoes and kayaks for rent. They also offer lessons. Check out the spelling on the sign.


Julie sailing

We had a great time on the Potomac. The winds were steady and fairly strong.


We were on the river until nearly sundown.

Potomac River

Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Nesbitt Realty and maintains Condo Alexandria. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.