The National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall have begun a restoration of the George Mason Memorial, located in East Potomac Park near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The yearlong project will include reconstruction of the central fountain, adding perennial plantings throughout the site and a thorough touch-up to the George Mason statue, trellis, and inscriptions.
The project is funded through a public-private partnership between the two organizations, with half of the funding provided by an appropriation from the National Park Service Centennial Challenge program, and an equal match from the Trust for the National Mall through generous donors including the Dr. Scholl Foundation and others. Since 2015, the National Park Service has used over $45 million in funding from Congress through the Centennial Challenge program to attract more than $77 million from partner organizations in support of hundreds of projects across the country that have improved visitor services and strengthened partnerships to reinvigorate national parks.
“By leveraging private funds from the Trust to match federal appropriations for projects, we greatly increase the amount of money we can invest in improvement to facilities on the National Mall,” said Cassius Cash, acting superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “The restoration of the George Mason Memorial is another example of how this model private-public partnership is improving resource protection and the visitor experience around the park.”
“The Trust for the National Mall has been a proud partner of the National Park Service for the past ten years, dedicating private support to help address the accumulated deferred maintenance and needed upgrades throughout the National Mall,” said Trust President & CEO, Catherine Townsend. “The Mall is a uniquely urban national park, and this most recent collaboration to restore a notable memorial demonstrates the vital need for interested individuals and organizations to embrace a sense of shared responsibility in stewarding our beloved national treasure.”
Dedicated in 2002, the George Mason Memorial commemorates the contributions of an important, but often forgotten, Founding Father whose Virginia Declaration of Rights influenced both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. The primary features of the memorial include a bronze statue of George Mason seated below a 72-foot-long trellis, and a fountain situated among gardens originally planted in the late 19th century.
In the 15 years since the memorial’s completion, the central fountain, which lacks a circulation system, has become plagued with algae blooms and costly maintenance. In addition, the extensive planting beds have been worn down and can no longer support the elegant plantings that have long defined the site. The new plantings and perennial gardens will commemorate Mason’s love of gardens.
The renovation work will modify the fountain to allow water to be filtered and re-circulated, improving the water quality and reducing the number of times the fountain needs to be drained and cleaned each year. Additional work to be completed includes refurbishing the bronze statue of George Mason; installing approximately 50 feet of new post and chain fencing; repairing the concrete sidewalk; cleaning the memorial’s masonry; repairing paving joints; and painting the post and chain fencing.