Four Phases Over Ten Years Provide Restoration, Expansion, and Accessibility of Gardens; Dramatic New Entrance Road and Orientation and Arts & Education Buildings; Outdoor Amphitheater; and Walking Trails
Winchester, VA 11/14/2013…The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) has announced a sweeping new Master Plan to guide the development of the Museum’s 254-acre campus—the largest green space in the City of Winchester—into a cultural park for the City of Winchester and the greater Shenandoah Valley community.
According to MSV Executive Director Dana Hand Evans, the Master Plan is the result of a 24-month process evolving from the creation of a new Strategic Plan (2013–2018). Along with opening more of the Museum’s green space to the public, the plan also allows for the gradual expansion of MSV programming. Evans says the Master Plan will be implemented in four major phases over 10 years, and she notes that some aspects of the plan, such as a new walking-trail network, gallery renovations, and additional gardens and grounds facilities, may be constructed between the major phases and based upon funding and specific needs.
The Master Plan includes a layered system of walking and hiking trails on the MSV property. A primary trail network will be suited for walking, biking, and strollers, while a secondary trail network featuring mulch paths will take visitors on a more strenuous journey through the site’s topography. As part of this plan, the MSV already has begun discussions with the City of Winchester to extend the city’s Green Circle Trail along the perimeter of the property. The proposed Green Circle Trail would run along the Museum’s western and northern borders, connecting James Wood Middle School to the existing John Kerr Elementary School and Jefferson Street neighborhood. In the fall of 2012, the MSV collaborated with the City to extend the Green Circle Trail along the Museum’s southern Amherst Street border.
Evans notes that work on Phase One of the Master Plan is already underway. A 24-month process, this first phase preserves and reinterprets the Glen Burnie House, restores the aging Glen Burnie Gardens, and installs a new Spring Garden along the stream running the length of the house’s front lawn. Expanded accessibility is a key component of Phase One, says Evans. When the house reopens in May of 2014, it will be completely accessible to wheelchair use. Similarly, restoration of the gardens—some built in the 1950s and 1960s—will greatly improve their accessibility. Concurrently, renovations of the current Garden Visitor Center and Orientation Building will transform these spaces to serve garden programming and classroom needs. Planning for the new Spring Garden is underway, with a 2015 opening planned.
Projections call for Phase Two, the most ambitious phase of the Master Plan, to begin in 2016. It provides a dramatic new entrance road into the site, with a satellite parking area, walking trail access, and restrooms. This phase also reconfigures the current parking facilities near the Museum and adds an Orientation Building to provide a new visitor entrance into the Museum and gardens. In addition, this phase provides a new Arts and Education Building to increase the Museum’s capacity to host lectures, symposia, events, and income-generating private rentals. An outdoor amphitheater will host concert events; an existing barn will transform into a hands-on area for youth; the Water and Chinese Gardens will expand; and added new gardens will include an ornamental orchard and wetlands area. This second phase also will see the construction of a Gothic Folly envisioned by Museum benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. MSV Executive Director Evans notes that all projects now envisioned for Phase Two will be evaluated individually for sustainability and may be added incrementally over a period of years.
Phase Three of the MSV development involves the reworking of existing spaces in the Museum building, including the relocation of the Museum Store and café to the current Reception Hall space. The existing Museum Store space will then convert to an orientation room, and the existing café will transform into additional classroom space. Lastly, Phase Four of the site’s development expands gallery and collections-storage spaces in the Museum.
Along with guiding the development of the Winchester campus, the MSV plan also addresses the future of the Museum’s nearby Rose Hill site in Frederick County. The Museum currently is in discussions with Frederick County Parks and Recreation to establish a partnership and provide community access to the historic portion of the property’s landscape via walking trails. The farmhouse on the property is being preserved and renovated as a tenant house. Lantz Construction Winchester (LCW) has been contracted for the house project, which will begin in the months ahead. Details regarding a possible partnership with Frederick County and the construction of a new entrance and parking lot for the site will be made public in early 2014.
Contractor for the Glen Burnie House preservation project and member of the MSV Master Plan team, Howard Shockey & Sons, has projected construction costs for implementing all phases of the Master Plan for the MSV’s Winchester campus at $26.4 million. Phase One constitutes $4.2 million of that amount, with all but $250,000 already funded by private donations and grants, says director Evans, who notes that a capital campaign for portions of Phase Two of the Master Plan will launch in 2014. Projected construction cost for Phase Two is $15.3 million, and costs for Phases Three and Four are $207,000 and $6.7 million respectively.
Under the leadership of Director 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); and Howard Shockey & Sons (preconstruction services).
Located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley campus includes the Glen Burnie House, six acres of gardens, and a 50,000-square-foot museum that tells the story of the region’s art, history, and culture and hosts a variety of changing exhibitions. The house and gardens opened to the public in 1997, and the Museum opened in 2005. The MSV has a staff of more than 50 full and part-time employees, a dedicated group of more than 100 docents and volunteers, and an annual operating budget of approximately $4 million. The Museum offers a wide range of highly popular educational programs and free community events, has more than 1,300 Members, and attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually. Additional information about the Museum is available at www.theMSV.org.