A Statement from Gunston Hall Director David L. Reese
Questions about the mission of Gunston Hall and its educational purpose have been raised in recent weeks, both by members of the press and by individuals in the community. The following facts, provided by Gunston Hall Director David L. Reese, are intende
- There has been no hiatus in Gunston Hall’s tour program, for either adults or school children. The Gunston Hall Docents Association has provided tours for 557 students in the month of February. At a meeting on February 4, fourteen members of the Executive Board of the Docents Association signed a petition confirming their commitment to provide tours for school children at Gunston Hall. (Two members were absent from the meeting, two abstained.) Ninety trained docents continue to conduct tours, and they will guide all student tours scheduled for the remainder of the school year. Bookings for the next school year of tours will commence in June. The “Seeds of Independence” program on February 13 featured a galvanizing lecture by Juan Williams, which was attended by more than 170 people, and 135 visitors enjoyed special programs on the afternoon of “Presidents Day,” February 21.
- Gunston Hall’s troupe of living history players, the Gunstonians, continues to perform at special events. Although some troupe members have expressed reservations about recent administrative decisions at Gunston, many more members have confirmed their intention to continue to perform at the site. The group is planning their spring schedule of performance and practice sessions. There was living history participation in “The Two Georges” held on “Presidents Day,” February 21; a re-enactor will portray George Mason at the first of Gunston Hall’s Liberty Lectures on February 27; re-enactors are scheduled for Gunston Hall’s upcoming “Kite Festival” on March 26. Gunston Hall’s management is pleased to provide a venue for performances of the Gunstonians.
- One of Gunston Hall’s greatest assets is its magnificent landscape of 550 acres bordering the Potomac River. The majority of Gunston’s lands are preserved in their natural state, and visitors are welcome to explore woods or hike walking trails. Approximately 60 acres surrounding the Mansion of George Mason comprise an important cultural landscape. The Regents and staff of Gunston Hall have expended many years and many dollars in the effort to explore this important historic 18th-century landscape through archaeological excavation and documentary research. The layout of garden areas, pathways, the carriage drive and circle, the landing road, a deer park, earthen terraces, and broad vistas of the land and river appear to have been designed by George Mason himself. Mason’s garden is an extremely important historic resource, and Gunston is slowly restoring it. When possible, or practical, 20th-century accretions have been removed from the landscape, and original features have been preserved or replicated. Today’s visitors may see the estate as George Mason envisioned it, with wide open fields flanking the approach, gravel paths enclosing the four squares of his vegetable garden on the river front of the house, and the original boxwood alleé. They may stand on earthen viewing mounts at the edge of the garden and view Mason’s deer park (complete with deer), the winding landing road, and a vista of the Potomac and the Maryland shore. Since Mason traveled very rarely, visitors may literally see the world that surrounded this important American patriot.