Under his tenure, the story of George Washington was brought alive for new generations of visitors with a series of changes, starting with the addition of the $60 million education center.
Wednesday the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which owns the home, announced Rees, president for the last 18 years, is retiring on June 1 for health reasons.
Rees, 59, has been associated with Mount Vernon for 29 years, working as director of development and associate director from 1983 until he was appointed president in 1994.
The many projects to renew the estate and retell the story of Washington were costly. However in the 29 years the endowment at Mount Vernon grew from $4 million to $125 million. Mount Vernon does not accept government money.
In 2006 the Ford Orientation and Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center opened. One objective was to humanize the first president beyond the frozen images. Later this week the estate is opening a new exhibition called “Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington.”
Other parts of the estate were restored, including Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill.
Next on the project board is a new library and Rees has already raised $82 million of the $100 million goal.
“No one has done more for George Washington’s legacy than Jim Rees,” said Mount Vernon’s Regent Ann Bookout.