When Two Fathers Meet
As a Revolutionary War hero, overseer of the Constitutional Convention and the first President of the United States, George Washington is known among Americans as the “Father of Our Country.” So when it came time to preserve his historical residence, Mount Vernon, it seemed only natural that its curators turned to Carrier, the company founded by “The Father of Modern Air Conditioning.”
Located in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Mount Vernon is subject to the fluctuating extremes of the region’s humid climate. Eighteenth century construction, which included very little insulation and single-pane windows, made the landmark and its centuries-old contents particularly vulnerable to the elements.
By the mid-1990s, with humidity and lack of climate control forcing delicate artifacts like china and furniture to be stored away from the home, the owners of the property turned to the experts at Carrier. The specifications for the mansion’s year-round environmental control system were challenging. The design could not modify the building’s appearance, place equipment inside the building or position visible equipment in the mansion’s immediate vicinity.
Despite many obstacles, Carrier delivered the solution for the first President’s residence. The system employed air handlers located in underground vaults, a Carrier® air-cooled reciprocating chiller located about 200 yards away, hidden by trees, and sophisticated ductwork that winds through the historic home’s closets, rafters and fireplaces to remain out of sight.
Carrier also incorporated two WeatherMaker® central air conditioners using non-ozone-depleting Puron® refrigerant to deliver cooling throughout the home in an environmentally responsible manner. In addition, sensors constantly monitor interior conditions and automatically adjust the interior environment to protect the home’s wooden frame from condensation.
Carrier’s unique custom design made possible special commemorative exhibitions for the 1999 bicentennial of Washington’s death and ensured that one of America’s most treasured sites could continue to host a million visitors per year. More than a cooling system, the Mount Vernon project is a reflection of our belief that preserving our past is an essential part of our future.