More than 200 years after George Washington wrote of wanting a library, he is finally getting one.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at groundbreaking ceremonies Thursday that no president merits the creation of a presidential library more than Washington. Unlike modern presidential libraries linked to the National Archives, the $47 million Washington library will be entirely privately funded.

The library will be located at the Mount Vernon estate and is expected to serve as a scholarly retreat.

Fred W. Smith is chairman of a foundation that donated $38 million to the library, and his name will grace the building. It is scheduled to be completed in about two years.