Reese Out as Gunston Hall Director

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David Reese, the controversial director of , 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 that garnered more than 1100 votes.


Todd Post April 19, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Hopefully this means that Denise McHugh will get her job back and more living history programs will be allowed as they had in the past.
Rob Hartwell April 20, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Its time for the Regents to work with the local community and leaders like Jim Dillard, Toddy Puller, Dave Albo and Charlotte Knipling, to craft a strategic plan to reinvigorate, modernize and showcase Gunston Hall with the public like never before. Ensuring it is accessible to the community for events, meetings, weddings etc. and bringing back the popular programs that made it a community centerpiece are essential.
Ann Thomson Mason April 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Huzza! Time to mend fences. The first step is to reach out to all of the alienated communities and move Gunston Hall to the 21st century and to celebrating Mason....and to celebrating his 300th birthday. 2025 is not that far away..... By alienated communities, I mean the local community, staff, interpreters/guides (current and former), docents (current and former), living history volunteers (current and former), re-enactors, et al.
Suzann Albanese May 01, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I too hope that Denise MdHugh will be reinstated royally to her position and given a very overdue apology!!! Huzzah!!!!
Ann Thomson Mason May 01, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Alas, no mending fences. Rather, those who fought for Gunston Hall's educational mission and for a responsible administration are being purged. Another lession from history ignored..."With malice toward none, with charity for all..." And I would not hold my breath for any apologies.
Ann Thomson Mason May 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Public mtg Monday, 5/14. At Gunston hall
Ann Thomson Mason May 13, 2012 at 02:57 AM
7:30 pm
Pat Patillo September 07, 2012 at 04:27 AM
I'm a lineal descendant of Mary Mason Fitzhugh Strother, dau. of George Mason II & wife Mary Fowke. I'm in the Midwest but enjoyed my visit to Gunston Hall years ago, however, from what I have read it seems that the Board of Regents --from the CDA-- should be more open & accountable to the public & the Commonweath of VA. My wish is that Gunton Hall will return to being an "Historical Gem" that serves the public with open arms!
Pat Patillo September 07, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Please excuse my mistake at a late hour -- it is indeed Gunston Hall & not "Gunton Hall" -- please forgive!


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