Inside the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

In the heart of the George Washington library, the John and Adrienne Mars Rare Books & Manuscripts Room, the library stores and displays the original letters and papers penned in Washington’s own hand, plus his prized collection of books and documents. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Inside the vault at the George Washington library at Mount Vernon, a rare collection of the first President’s beloved books and papers. The room is named after John and Adrienne Mars and features a six-foot pewter-toned relief interpretation of Washington’s own bookplate. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

One of George Washington’s most valued possessions, a pamphlet published by Thomas Paine in 1796. It is kept in the vault at the new GW library at Mount Vernon. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

This locked and protected room leads to the inner sanctum, the vault. This room, where scholars can study, holds the papers of George and Martha Washington. His are on one side of the room, hers on the other. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Among the papers of Martha Washington, her family bible. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

This is the Karen Buchwald Wright Read Room of the George Washington library at Mount Vernon. It features busts of the founding fathers: Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison. The busts were commissioned to depict the them as they looked in 1785. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The clay bust of George Washington in the reading room was based in part on a sculpture of him done in 1785 by Jean-Antoine Houdon. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The larger library, separate from the vault, houses a vast collection of books about Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington, and their times. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

What’s striking as one enters the GW Library is the use of elegant woods and stone. Much of the wood is American sycamore. “It is very American,” said interior designer Richard Molinaroli of MFM Design of Bethesda. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The staff offices at the GW library have the same theme as the entire space, with special woods chosen by the team from Bethesda-based MFM Design. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

There are a number of high-tech meeting spaces at the George Washington library, including the David M. Rubenstein Leadership Hall. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The library has special offices for visiting scholars. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The so-called “wall of honor.” The names of the donors who contributed more than $106 million to building George Washington’s presidential library, including a gift of $38 million from Fred W. Smith and the Reynolds Foundation, where he is chairman. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The new National Library for the Study of George Washington is 45,000 square feet in size and sits on a campus of 15 acres. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The keeper of the keys to the “vault,”chief librarian Mark Santangelo. The sanctuary’s official name is the John and Adrienne Mars Rare Books and Manuscripts Room. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

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