Saving Mount Vernon and Everything the Light Touches

Two women who saved George Washington’s historic home

In the first episode of our three-part series on George Washington’s Mount Vernon, we explore two women responsible for preserving the estate. First, the “Southern Matron” Ann Pamela Cunningham, who dedicated her life to saving Mount Vernon from ruin in the 1850s. Then, the eccentric Congressperson Frances Payne Bolton who used her wealth and power to save Mount Vernon’s pristine view from becoming an industrial wasteland in the 1950s.

It’s a story of perseverance, partnership, and different kinds of power—economic, political, and even psychic.

Listen now:


Frances Payne Bolton, MountVernon.org


Representative France Payne Bolton


Mount Vernon is Ours: The Story of Its Preservation and Restoration of Washington’s Home by Elswyth Thane
A Long Way Forward: The Biography of Congresswoman Frances P. Bolton by David Loth
Preserving Washington’s View, MountVernon.org
“Frances Payne Bolton – The Dowager Queen” Newspapers.com. Daily News, February 7, 1960. https://www.newspapers.com/article/daily-news-frances-payne-bolton-the-do/133552090/.
“Frances Payne Bolton: At 85 Still a Spunky Ex-Congresswoman” Newspapers.com. The Palm Beach Post, May 11, 1970. https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-palm-beach-post-frances-payne-bolton/133556134/.
“Potomac site will be park” Newspapers.com. The Baltimore Sun, August 28, 1962. https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-baltimore-sun-frances-payne-bolton/133556986/.
“To The Ladies of The South, from A Southern Matron” Newspapers.com. The Washington Union, December 22, 1853. https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-washington-union-a-southern-matron/135559779/.

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