Most Endangered: Mount Vernon Historic Viewshed Threatened

06/26/2018
By Preservation Maryland

For more than 200 years, the landscape surround Mount Vernon that inspired George Washington has remained largely unspoiled, a proposed natural gas compressor station in Charles County, Maryland puts that historic and iconic cultural landscape at risk.

Take Action: On June 26, 2018, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the view from George Washington’s Mount Vernon one of their 11 Most Endangered sites. We call upon Dominion Energy to change the location of this gas compressor station so that it does not interfere with the view from historic Mount Vernon. George Washington’s Mount Vernon cannot be moved, however Dominion Energy’s gas compressor station can be relocated.

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Since the 1950s, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has worked tirelessly to protect the nearby shoreline and view from encroachments that would ruin the vista that George Washington treasured. Working with Maryland communities and organization, Mount Vernon’s leadership has placed scenic easements on 415 Maryland properties. These easements prohibit visible construction or the removal of trees and vegetation, thus preserving natural habitats. Despite these protective measures, threats to the viewshed continue to materialize.

Rendering of Dominion Energy stacks. Courtesy of Mount Vernon.

The Threat

Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, plans to construct a natural gas compressor station, with stacks potentially reaching as tall as 113 feet, directly across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon — an act that could damage the pristine landscape that has changed little over the last two centuries. The planned station, to be built in Charles County, Maryland and adjacent to Piscataway National Park, is located in a rural conservation zone, bordering land that is protected under conservation easements. Given the rural location of the station and the lack of nearby infrastructure, a fire or an explosion at the unmanned compressor site could damage homes and scar the landscape.

SEe Viewshed Map

Heritage tourism at risk

There’s more at risk than just the remarkable view that more than one million guests who visit Mount Vernon see each year. There are very real economic concerns. Mount Vernon supports 600 jobs and generates more than $30 million in revenue from visitor spending. If one of the region’s premier assets is damaged by this natural gas compressor station, it poses a serious threat to the local tourism economy.

Take Action

Preservation Maryland joins with partners at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and George Washington’s Mount Vernon and stands opposed to the construction of the natural gas compressor within the Maryland viewshed of Mount Vernon. The organization is concerned not only that the stacks would potentially ruin an historic landscape that has remained essentially unchanged for over 200 years, but is also concerned about the environmental and safety threats that such a project would pose.

We call upon Dominion Energy to change the location of this gas compressor station so that it does not interfere with the view from historic Mount Vernon. George Washington’s Mount Vernon cannot be moved, however Dominion Energy’s gas compressor station can be relocated.

Download the Press Release (PDF)

Sign the Petition

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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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