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The property consists of a core of 16 surviving 18th-century structures situated within a cultural landscape of associated gardens, fences, lanes, walkways, and other features, situated along the Potomac River. The historic core of the property is contained within an area that is roughly 20 hectares in size. The surviving 18th-century structures consist of the Mansion, kitchen, servants' hall, gardener's house, a salt house, spinning house, store house, smoke house, wash house, stable, ice house, the original tomb, and four garden buildings (two necessaries and two seed houses).
George Washington's home and the associated gardens and grounds together form a remarkably well-preserved example of an evolved cultural landscape of the 18th-century American south, based on English models, that is unique in the extent of its documentation. The estate formed the core of an extensive plantation operation that included hundreds of enslaved workers. The combination of surviving structures and landscape features, archaeological data, and archival evidence make Mount Vernon arguably the best documented and most completely preserved example of this important period in landscape design.
As a result of its association with George Washington, the leading General of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and first President of the United States of America, which led to early efforts to protect it, the property is remarkably well preserved. As it has been restored over a long period of time, however, some aspects of the landscape reflect Colonial Revival style as well as the authentic original features.
Brimstone Hill Fortress in St. Kitts, Lunenburg Old Town and the Historic Area of Quebec in Canada, and Monticello and the University of Virginia in the United States have been inscribed as World Heritage sites reflecting the nature and the impact of British colonization. Of these, only Monticello relates to the plantation form, but is focused on Jefferson's unique architectural vision. Before preparing a nomination for this property, it will be necessary to examine in more depth and detail the comparable documentation and features of other 18th-century American plantations - such as Hampton and Sotterly in Maryland, and Stratford Hall, Carter's Grove, and Sully in Virginia.