Mt. Vernon, VA

project size

15,000 SF


Conservation and Restoration of Exterior Envelope

Restoration of Existing Windows

Historic Research and Documentation

Planning, Design, Construction Administration and Post-Construction Services

Restoration While Maintaining Operations


2010 Merit Award in Historic Resources, AIA DC Chapter

National Historic landmark

Woodlawn’s original 2,000 acres were presented as a wedding gift by George Washington to his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his bride Eleanor Parke Custis. Dr. William Thornton, the first architect of the U.S. Capitol, designed the late-Georgian style manse to be constructed on a hill-top with a vista looking towards Mount Vernon three miles in the distance.  The inevitable ravages wrought by weather and time led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to select Davis Buckley Architects and Planners (DBA) for the conservation of the structure’s exterior envelope and its outbuildings. Preserving the structure required improvements in three major areas: foundation water intrusion, façade moisture intrusion, and roofing. 


Following extensive review of existing documentation and on site investigations, the DBA team prepared construction documents and created a phased approach to coordinate with the Owner’s budget.  Design solutions were developed to provide foundation drains and waterproofing systems for basement walls; to re-grade select areas to provide positive drainage away from the buildings; to disassemble and reinstall deteriorated brick entrance walks, ramps and terraces adjacent to the house; and to rebuild window wells with functional drains. To prevent façade moisture intrusion, the DBA team developed a plan that replaced deteriorated exfiltration systems; repaired and repainted deteriorated eaves, cornices and dormers; re-pointed brick garden walls, dependencies and chimneys; conserved decorative and structural stone trim, sills and lintels; disassembled, repaired, and re-glazed windows, doors and shutters; and repaired exterior plaster on façade panels and columns. To repair damaged roofing, the DBA team developed design solutions to replace slate roofing, including underlayment, damaged sheathing, flashings, snow guards, and lightning protection. The metal roofs on the three entry porches were replaced including repairing and shimming the original framing to provide positive drainage.  DBA secured all required approvals from historic agencies throughout the design process. 


Following Phase I, DBA carried out the complete restoration of the Smoke House, a 16’ x 16’ brick masonry structure with wood roof framing and cedar shingles connected to the north wing of the main house.  The restoration included replacing the cedar shingle roof; repairing unsound roof framing members; repairing and replacing ceiling wood facias, mouldings and decorative vents; repairing wood doors, door frames, door sills  and plaster panels; painting all wood elements and applying a lime wash to the interior masonry walls of the Smoke House.  DBA’s sensitive restoration was recognized by the Washington Chapter of the AIA with a Merit Award.