'Mount Vernon' Display Offers View of George Washington's Life

Article excerpt

On a miserable, rainy day in what is now Fayette County, George Washington did not know the significance Western Pennsylvania would come to play in his life.

He did not know his surrender at Fort Necessity in 1754 would set the stage for a military career that was highlighted by the expulsion of the British from the 13 colonies. Nor did he know he would be not far away in 1794 when he became the first and only president ever to lead troops in an area of conflict.

He also did not know a display that looks at the breadth of his life and work would open at a museum here, as it will Friday at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

"It is our mission to tell American history from a Western Pennsylvania angle and this does this perfectly," says Andy Masich, president and CEO of the history center. "We are delighted to be the premiere site of this exhibition."

"Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon," a $5 million display, will begin a nine-city tour of the United States at the center. It was put together by the Mount Vernon Estate & Garden, the museum and historical site at the Virginia home of the first president.

It will be highlighted by:

Three life-size figures of Washington (1732-99): one of a 19- year-old just before the French and Indian War, one on horseback at Valley Forge, and one being sworn in as president. Jeffrey Schwartz, a professor of forensic anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, was a key in the assembly of the figures, using clothing, a death mask and dentures to create accurate figures of the 6-foot-2 leader.

The only full set of dentures remaining of the tooth-troubled president. …