Place

The Birthplace Monument

The Birthplace Monument
An illustration of the Birthplace Monument

NPS image

Quick Facts

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits

In 1896, just eleven years after the completion of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., the United States War Department placed an obelisk as a monument at the site thought to be George Washington's birthhouse. 

The monument stood 50 feet tall, almost exactly 1/10th the size of the one in Washington D.C. To protect the monument, it was surrounded by an iron ornamental fence and a gate.

The monument became a destination visit for many travelers. Thousands of visitors, from America, Europe, and Asia paid their respects to George Washington by visiting the monument. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt came down from Washington, D.C. on a day visit. Roosevelt noted:
  "...I spent about four hours ashore, taking [my] lunch and walking up to the monument which marks where the house stood in which Washington was born. It was a simple shaft."

In the late-1920s, the Wakefield National Memorial Association formed to commemorate the landscape at George Washington's birthplace. The group decided to build a house as a memorial to Washington on the same spot where the monument stood. Many complained that moving the monument would be too costly, since the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, and that moving the monument from the original birthhouse location would lessen its importance.

Despite the objections, in 1931, the monument was removed from its original base. It was transported in pieces by carts and reinstalled at the park entrance on a new base which added five feet to the overall height of the monument. The original design was also changed with the words "Washington's Birthplace" and the years of its installation removed from the monument.

The monument is now the first landmark that visitors to the park see. 

George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Last updated: September 14, 2021