About the MSV
The mission of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is to preserve and enrich the cultural life and heritage of the Valley.
The Museum sits on land originally claimed by Winchester founder James Wood in 1735. The property was passed through generations of Wood and Glass families until being acquired by Wood descendant Julian Wood Glass Jr. between 1952 and 1955. Aided by a family fortune made in Oklahoma’s oil industry, Glass and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor, worked together to transform the site and its Glen Burnie House—built in 1794 by James Wood’s son Robert—into a country retreat. Taylor moved to the site in 1958 and while Glass visited his ancestral home, he was never a full-time resident at Glen Burnie. They furnished the home with objects Glass inherited along with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century furniture and fine art that Glass purchased for the home. Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century they surrounded the house with six acres of elaborate Glen Burnie Gardens. By 1960, Glen Burnie had become a showplace where the couple entertained in high style. Even after their romantic relationship ended in the 1970s, the two maintained a working relationship where Taylor continued to live and manage the estate while Glass divided his time between traveling, Glen Burnie, and his residences in Oklahoma, Texas, and New York City. The two men remained gracious hosts together until Glass’s death in 1992. Taylor lived at Glen Burnie until his death in 2000.
After Julian Wood Glass’s death and as a condition of his will, the house and gardens were opened to the public on a seasonal basis in 1997. In 2005, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was added as an anchor to the site to both fulfill Glass’s vision of sharing his significant collection with the public, and to expand upon that vision to include a space where the art, history, and culture of the Valley could be interpreted. The 50,000-square-foot Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was designed by renowned architect Michael Graves. At 214 acres, the Museum’s landscape is the largest green space in the city of Winchester and the Glen Burnie House and its surrounding seven-acre gardens remain an important part of this year-round regional history complex now known as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. In late fall of 2020, 90 acres of the MSV landscape opened to the public as The Trails at the MSV, a free-admission art park featuring 3 miles of trails for walking, running, and biking.
Julian Wood Glass Jr.
MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. was a descendent of Mary and James Wood, who settled the site now called Glen Burnie in the late 1730s and founded the city of Winchester—then called Frederick Town—in 1744. Julian and his half-sister, Sunny, grew up in Nowata, Oklahoma, where their father had moved from Winchester and achieved financial success in the oil industry. The Glass family enjoyed a gracious lifestyle that exposed Julian to European travel and the arts.
As a young boy, Julian saved his allowance to buy art. This collecting passion continued throughout his life. He eventually amassed a significant collection of English and American paintings and decorative arts. He displayed his collection in his homes in Oklahoma and New York, as well as in Glen Burnie, which he acquired in the 1950s. A gay man, Julian Glass at the time was in a committed relationship with R. Lee Taylor, whom he met in New York City in 1947. In the late 1950s, Julian, aided by Lee, undertook an extensive renovation of the Glen Burnie House, which by then was in serious disrepair. The couple turned the house into a showplace and surrounded it with six acres of formal gardens.
The men’s relationship dissolved in the 1970s. However, Julian continued to use Glen Burnie as a retreat in which to entertain. Lee lived in a small apartment in the house and managed the site. Prior to his death in 1992, Julian established the Glass–Glen Burnie Foundation to assure that his collection, Glen Burnie, and nearby Rose Hill—the Glass ancestral homestead—would be preserved for public enjoyment. The Glen Burnie Historic House and Gardens opened in 1997, with Lee Taylor as curator of gardens until his death in 2000. In 2005, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley opened on the site, and today it presents Julian’s impressive collection through changing exhibitions on a variety of topics.
Julian Wood Glass Jr.’s remains are buried in the Glass family cemetery in Nowata, Oklahoma.
The Wood and Glass Families
The Wood and Glass families are associated with the site’s historic properties, and are representative of many settlers who came to the Valley in the 1700s.
The Anglo-Virginian Wood Family traces its Valley history to James Wood. He surveyed, claimed, and, with his wife, Mary, lived on land in the northern Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s, creating an estate that utilized enslaved labor. Wood also donated portions of his land to establish the city of Winchester in 1744.
The Scots-Irish Glass Family was among the many Scots-Irish immigrants who left the north of Ireland in the 1700s and came to the Valley in search of a better life. This family’s Valley story begins with Samuel and Mary Glass, who moved here in the 1730s. The Wood and Glass families became linked with the marriage in 1832 of “Kitty” Wood (James Wood’s granddaughter) and Thomas Glass.
R. Lee Taylor
Born on a Tennessee farm, R. Lee Taylor served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He moved to New York City after that, and there in 1947, he met Julian Wood Glass Jr. This began a 20-year relationship between the two gay men. In 1955, when Julian Wood Glass Jr. acquired his ancestral home, Glen Burnie, Lee aided in its extensive renovation. He also helped research the fine and decorative arts that Julian was collecting. By 1960, Lee had moved into the Glen Burnie House on a full-time basis to manage the site and create its surrounding gardens.
The relationship between Lee and Julian dissolved in the 1970s. However, Lee continued to live in the Glen Burnie House and serve as site manager. Julian divided his time between his homes in Oklahoma, New York, and Glen Burnie, in which he enjoyed entertaining family and friends. During those times, the relationship between the two men was strained, but their mutual regard for the house and gardens allowed the arrangement to work. Just before Julian’s death in 1992, the two men reconciled. The site opened as a museum five years later, with Lee Taylor then serving as curator of gardens and continuing to live in the upstairs section of the house.
Beginning in the late 1970s, during the winter months Lee Taylor began creating a collection of miniature houses and rooms that were furnished in exact detail. Eventually he had 14 houses and rooms, furnished with some 4,000 exquisite objects that represented more than 70 of the leading miniaturists of the day. R. Lee Taylor died in 2000, and his will bequeathed this miniatures collection to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Today it is on permanent display in the R. Lee Taylor Miniatures Gallery. Many believe that Lee’s miniature of the Glen Burnie House—on view in the Visitor Center in the Museum gardens—is the masterpiece of his collection.
Lee Taylor’s ashes are interred in a wall of the Glen Burnie Family Cemetery.
Queer History at the MSV
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is rooted in gay history. MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910–1992) and his partner R. Lee Taylor (1924–2000) renovated Glen Burnie—Glass’s ancestral home—in the 1950s and created the formal landscape surrounding the house. Before his death, Glass established a foundation to open his ancestral home and gardens to the public and build a museum on the Glen Burnie landscape.
Today the MSV maintains six collections, including the Julian Wood Glass Jr. Collection containing American, European, and Asian fine and decorative art that belonged to Julian Wood Glass Jr. and the Glen Burnie Queer Studies Collection, which consists of the everyday, material life objects owned by Julian Wood Glass Jr. and R. Lee Taylor dating to their occupancy of Glen Burnie, including objects that speak to their time as a gay couple.
Learn more at these links:
MSV Master Plan
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley has unveiled an ambitious Master Plan to guide our development over the next ten years. The plan shapes the MSV into a cultural park for the City of Winchester and the greater Shenandoah Valley community.
This Master Plan is the result of a two-year process evolving from the creation of a Strategic Plan. The Master Plan will be implemented in eight phases as follows:
- Phase 1 (COMPLETED): Stewardship, repair, and reinterpretation the Glen Burnie House and Gardens, installation of a new Spring Garden, and repurposing of existing spaces for maximum use. The Glen Burnie House reopened in June 2014. Kathie’s Spring Garden, a garden classroom, a restored Greenhouse, a research library, and a reconfigured Rose Garden, Museum Lobby, and Museum Store opened in 2015. Installation of new accessible garden paths and a new creative learning studio in 2016 will complete this phase.
- Phase 2 (FUNDRAISING COMPLETE): Increase capacity to serve the greater Valley community by transforming the 214-acre MSV campus into Virginia’s largest—and the Valley’s only—art park, while maintaining the last working farm in Winchester City limits. Construct a new entrance and trailhead that connects to the City’s Green Circle Walking Trail; install three miles of hiking, walking, running, and biking trails; open four pedestrian entrances connecting the MSV to surrounding neighborhoods and downtown; create garden structures (“follies”) and contemporary art installations along the trail system; construct an environmentally innovative Parking Garden; and create and install an event lawn which will serve as both a garden and space to host MSV programs. Projected cost: approximately $9 million. Learn more about The Trails at the MSV.
- Phase 3: Construct a new site Orientation Center, install an ornamental Crab Apple Orchard on the south lawn, create new entrances into the formal gardens, renovate the Water Garden, and install restrooms at the Hands-on Barn.
- Phase 4: Build an Arts and Education Center with adjacent courtyard and covered walkway connecting the Orientation Center and Barn.
- Phase 5: Construct an Amphitheater with terraced gardens and surrounding Art(i)fact wall to host musical events and performing arts, install a Weir Garden for site-wide water management, expand the Wetlands to enhance the formal gardens and connect to the existing trail network.
- Phases 6, 7 and 8: Add a vast network of secondary trails to fully open the park, expand exhibition and service spaces in the Museum Galleries, and reconfigure the Museum Store and existing MSV Reception Hall.
Along with guiding the development of the Winchester campus, the MSV plan also addresses the future of the Museum’s nearby Rose Hill Farm in Frederick County. Rose Hill Park, where, thanks to a partnership between the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department (FCPRD) and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) a community park is now located. Developed on the MSV’s Rose Hill Farm property, the park includes a 1.25-mile walking trail, interpretive signage, a parking lot, and restrooms, all new. A 60-person picnic shelter opened at Rose Hill in the fall of 2016. (See the Press Release.)
Led by MSV Executive Director Dana Hand Evans, Master Plan team members include Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus, Smithsonian Museum of American History; Reader & Swartz Architects; Siteworks (landscape architects); Arentz Landscape Architects (landscape architects – Glen Burnie Gardens); The Design Minds, Inc. (visitor experience); Painter and Lewis, PLC (engineering); Jaffe Holden (acoustics, audio, video, amphitheater, IT infrastructure); Maral Kalbian (historic preservation consulting); Dennis Pogue, PhD (historic preservation consulting); Richard Lew (artist); Main Street Architects (Rose Hill Project), and Howard Shockey & Sons (preconstruction services).
Board of Directors
Wilborn M. Roberson, President
Jeff W. Coker, PhD, Vice President
W. Michael Perry, Second Vice President
Candace L. Davenport, Secretary
Grady W. Philips, Treasurer
W. Blakely Curtis, Immediate Past President
James Angelo, EdD
Jennifer B. Baker
Ilona E. Benham
Tamara L. Bjelland
Susan M. Brooks
Gina S. Byrd
Carolyn P. Farouki
Mary G. Fetter
Shannon M. Gemma
Katharine M. Harvard
The Honorable Ronald L. Napier
Rieman C. Royston
Glass–Glen Burnie Foundation Trustees
John B. Adams, Jr.
Todd L. Brockwell, CFA CPA
James T. Holland*
Allan G. Paterson, Jr.
David H. O. Roth
Gerald F. Smith, Jr.
Contact the MSV
901 Amherst Street
Winchester, Virginia 22601
Toll Free: 888-556-5799
- Visitor Information (ext. 235)
- Museum Store (ext. 244)
- Administration (ext. 210)
- Facility Rentals (ext. 227)
- Media Inquiries (ext. 225)
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Attn: Collections Department
901 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA 22601
For more information about The Trails at the MSV or to find out more about donating to the project—including naming opportunities
—please contact MSV Director of Community Engagement Laura Wiley at 540-662-1473, ext. 217, or lwiley@theMSV.org
Media Inquiries: please contact MSV Deputy Director, Marketing & Communications, Julie Armel at 540-662-1473, ext. 225 or jarmel@theMSV.org