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Presidents Day news: George Washington will finally have a library

February 18, 2013|By David Ng
  • A bust of George Washington, created in 1785 by Jean-Antoine Houdon.
A bust of George Washington, created in 1785 by Jean-Antoine Houdon. (Mount Vernon Ladies Assn. )

Presidential libraries serve as official cultural repositories for the legacies of their namesake commanders in chief. More than 200 years after his death, it's hard to believe that the country's first president, George Washington, still lacks a library devoted to his remarkable life.

Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of Washington, has spent the last several years raising $100 million to construct an official library on its scenic grounds. Organizers announced on Friday — just in time for Presidents Day weekend -- an opening date of Sept. 27. 

The library's website states that it will be the only presidential library built and maintained without government funding. The 45,000-square-foot building will provide access to books, manuscripts and other archival material from Mount Vernon.

Visiting scholars will have the option of staying at a 6,000-square-foot residence next to the library.

The full title of the library will be the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

Presidential libraries and museums typically are built within a few years after a president leaves office. The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is set to open its doors May 1 at its location at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum opened in 2004 in Little Rock, Ark. Southern California lays claim to two presidential libraries — Ronald Reagan's in Simi Valley and Richard Nixon's in Yorba Linda.

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