Winchester, VA 6/9/14…Visitors will experience the Glen Burnie House in an entirely new way when it reopens tomorrow, June 10, 2014. Located on the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) grounds, the house is reopening following an extensive, two-year renovation process.
Glen Burnie sits on land that Winchester-founder James Wood settled in 1735. Wood’s son Robert built the oldest portions of the house in 1793 and 1794. Descendant Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910–1992) became the house’s sole owner in the 1950s; with partner R. Lee Taylor (1924–2000), he transformed the Glen Burnie House into a country retreat surrounded by six acres of formal gardens. After Glass’s death and as a condition of his will, the house and gardens opened to the public in 1997, with the visitor experience of the house then being docent-led tours only.
In 2011, the Glen Burnie House closed for a needed, extensive preservation process that is an important component of the Museum’s $4.2 million Master Plan. Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation guided the renovation, which has provided new gutters; foundation drainage systems; exterior storm windows; a restroom and lift to make the main level of the house fully accessible to all visitors; accessible outdoor paths; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; a catering kitchen; and an exhibition to introduce the site’s history.
Winchester firms leading the house project included Reader & Swartz Architects; contractor Howard Shockey & Sons; mechanical and electrical engineers Comfort Design, Inc.; and structural engineers Painter-Lewis. Also working with the MSV on the project was a renowned team of professional architectural investigators led by local architectural historian Maral S. Kalbian. The Design Minds, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, was exhibition designer for the project.
The New Glen Burnie House Experience
According MSV Executive Director Dana Hand Evans, now visitors to Glen Burnie will experience the house freely on their own, with their experience beginning by entering the house through the front door, as did Glass’s and Taylor’s own guests. Thanks to new glass entrance doors, visitors will now see the spectacular view of the Grand Allee behind the house that greeted Glass and Taylor’s visitors. Once inside Glen Burnie, visitors also will enjoy the comforts of air conditioning, provided by a new mechanical system, and a fully accessible first floor with two functioning restrooms.
On this new, self-guided experience, ten interpretive panels will show visitors archival images of people who have lived in Glen Burnie over the generations. In addition, new displays with LED lighting highlight the decorative objects Glass collected and enjoyed in Glen Burnie. Visitors may now enjoy the house at their leisure and relax on furniture in the center hall, library, and drawing room. The visitor experience includes the first floor of the house: the breakfast room, a dining room, the center hall, the library, and the drawing room.
The room used by Glass and Taylor as a dining room now displays Taylor’s fully furnished miniature model of the Glen Burnie House. Assembled by Taylor, the miniature provides visitors with an exacting look at how Glass and Taylor furnished the house as their private residence. Text panels in this room detail the history of Glen Burnie and tell the stories of the 1950s renovation, James Wood, the women who lived in the house, the enslaved people of Glen Burnie, and the impact of the Civil War on Glen Burnie.
In the other rooms of the house, visitors will learn more about Glass and Taylor and their lives at Glen Burnie. The breakfast room explains the tradition of brunch at Glen Burnie and presents an impressive collection of English figural porcelain, silver and crystal pieces, and European tea services and plates. The library highlights Glass’s passion for travel, reading, and collecting art and antiques, and it displays books and decorative objects, including sculpture and Chinese porcelain.
In the drawing room, which Glass added in 1959, visitors will learn about the tradition of entertaining at Glen Burnie that Glass and Taylor established. Featuring three new, crystal chandeliers and paintings collected by Glass—including the first painting he acquired, Young Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, attributed to Alessandro Allori (1535–1607)—the renovation has transformed this room into a space that the MSV will use for educational programming, special events, and entertaining via the MSV event rental program.
Following a successful series of sold-out evening performances presenting the theatrical production The Hollow Crown, the first educational program in the drawing room will take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, and will feature architectural historian and MSV consultant Maral Kalbian. In an illustrated lecture using newly installed, state-of-the-art video equipment, Kalbian will unveil findings discovered during the two-year renovation project of the Glen Burnie House. The event will include light refreshments. Cost is $20 for MSV Members and $25 for all others. Advance reservations are required and may be made online at www.theMSV.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 240.
The Grand Reopening activities will conclude on June 28 with the fun-filled Sixties Summer Soirée, presented thanks to generous financial support provided by Howard Shockey & Sons. The evening will feature a 1960s-inspired hors d’oeuvres and cocktail menu and dancing to the music of the Jeff Decker Band. Tickets, at $25 per person for MSV Members or $35 for all others; may be purchased online at www.theMSV.org.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Museum is open year-round; the house and gardens are open April through October. Admission to the Glen Burnie House is included in the general Museum admission ticket, which is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and youth (age 13 to 18). Museum admission is always free to ages 12 and under and to MSV Members. Additional information is available at www.theMSV.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235.