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.