Reese Out as Gunston Hall Director
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David Reese, the controversial director of Gunston Hall, has been fired by the Board of Regents, it was announced this week. Details are emerging, and this much is sure—the home of George Mason will be seeing some changes.
Gunston Hall announced the ouster in a short email: "The Board of Regents of Gunston Hall, Lorton VA, announces that David Reese will no longer be serving as director of the historic landmark. Mark Whatford has been named acting director. First Regent Wylie Raab acknowledged Reese’s contributions to the preservation and restoration of Gunston Hall."
The decision to fire Reese was made in a meeting of the Regents over the weekend. The Regents are members of the Colonial Dames of America and have overseen management of Gunston Hall since the Commonwealth took it over in 1948.
Reese, who was appointed director by then-Gov. Mark Warner (D) in 2003, has been harshly criticized for firing the long-time education director last year, cutting back the grounds, and eliminating programs. Calls to Raab and Whatford were not returned.
"I couldn't be happier," said Del. Dave Albo (R-42), who, along with Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) introduced bills in this year's General Assembly to reconfigure the scope of power possessed by the Board of Regents. Albo retracted his bill when, as a conciliatory effort, the Regents agreed to refill the vacant education coordinator position.
"This is a really big step, and the Board of Regents have proven that they want to work with the community," Albo said. "I'm not celebrating that Reese is gone. He's really good at preserving antiquities; he did that very well. He just didn't get along with the neighborhood too well, and you certainly need those skills for that job."
Charlotte Knipling, a docent with Gunston Hall for 25 years, went to Richmond during the legislative session. "I think the continued pressure paid off," she wrote Patch in an email.
Rob Hartwell is a Mason Neck resident and life-long supporter of Gunston Hall. "I think that the community is happy with the result," he said. "I'm hoping that the community and Regents and all parties can come together to modernize and reinvigorate Gunston Hall as a showcase of one of Virginia's most historic and treasured properties that was critical to the founding of our nation."
Lorton Patch recently conducted a poll on Gunston Hall that garnered more than 1100 votes.