Before the White House, there was Mount Vernon, the home of this nation's first president -- George Washington. Profiled here for the first time in full color by award-winning photographers Robert Lautman and Edward Owen and thoroughly documented in eight essays by eminent historians, the fascinating story of Mount Vernon -- from Washington's life to the finely furnished home that he and his wife, Martha, created over the years to the struggle and perseverance of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association to save this national treasure -- is presented in this exceptional volume. From the time Washington first leased the house and farm in 1754 until his death in 1799, he increased the estate from 2,126 acres to more than 8,000. Every aspect of Mount Vernon -- from the expansion and decoration of the house to the purchase of the silver and china, planting of the gardens, and management of the plantation -- was personally handled by Washington. The estate's elegant simplicity has been likened to the personality that so diligently shaped it. Celebrated leaders from all walks of life -- including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and almost every American president since Washington -- make brief but important appearances in the Mount Vernon saga. In addition to historical significance, the rescue and subsequent restoration of Mount Vernon represent a milestone in America's preservation movement. The exemplary research and implementation of preservation techniques employed in the restoration of Mount Vernon, many of which are detailed here, have set precedents in the field.