Last May I posted about the construction of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, a research library that will act as a repository for Mount Vernon's vast collection of books, manuscripts, and archival materials and will include a wing that replicates Washington's own library. Mount Vernon has been raising funds for the construction and maintenance of the library, making it the only presidential library to be built and sustained without government funding.
The library is thrilled to announce that due to a $10 million donation from David Rubenstein, it has now exceeded its original fundraising goal of $100 million dollars and is on track to open in September. Rubenstein is a co-founder and co-CEO of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group and Chairman of the Kennedy Center in addition to being a devoted philanthropist. He has a particular fondness for Washington and has enjoyed visiting Mount Vernon since he was a child.
Rubenstein characterized his gift as "patriotic philanthropy", saying that he tries "to give back to things that remind people of American history." (Cheers to that!) In 2007, Rubenstein purchased the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta for $21.3 million and put the document on public display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Mount Vernon's president and CEO Curt Viebranz said that Rubenstein "shares our interest in ensuring that these rare Washington and founding era documents are there for the people." Four million dollars from the gift will be used to found a rare books and manuscripts endowment, money that will certainly help the library acquire the original copies from Washington's own library.