A shrine to the first U.S. president brings a little of Old Baltimore to four small, adjoining parks.. In Short In 1809 (10 years after George's death), a national monument was built in his honor. Robert Mills, the self-declared "first American-trained architect," won the design contest with a plan for an ornate column topped by Washington in chariot. Production costs forced simplifications but the streamlined obelisk nevertheless possesses a small, ground-floor museum for photographs and etchings. With a quartet of radiating parks, the monument forms the hub of historic Mount Vernon Square.