Gunston Hall is the home and plantation of George Mason IV, the author of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. The project area includes the 18th century Georgian mansion, house yard with exhibit outbuildings, Mason family graveyard, graves of enslaved workers, river-side garden, entrance drive, woodlands and open fields, archaeological sites, and operational and visitor services facilities. The focus of the interpretation of the mansion and landscape is on 1792, the year of George Mason’s death.
A site master plan was prepared for the 550-acres of the original 5,500-acre plantation. The purpose of the master planning effort was to describe the physical requirements of organizational strategic thinking and to support long-range planning, project development, and fundraising. The overarching master plan concept reflects the institutional values and supports the site’s focus on education. The plan provides recommendations for improving the visitor experience through expansion of visitor activities, the creation of greater visual cohesion and clarity of site elements, and enhancing and increasing spaces to support expanded visitor services.
Current visitor experience projects include enhancing the existing Visitor Center through upgrades to building systems as well as improvements to visitor access and related outdoor educational and interpretive facilities. In addition, conceptual-level planning and design is in progress to support the restoration of the river-side garden, including viewing mounts and terraces. The garden project is critical to supporting enhanced interpretive and educational programs and will be based on landscape research and archaeological investigations previously completed by Gunston Hall staff.
RMLA principal Rob McGinnis served as the consulting preservation landscape architect for the site master plan while with OCULUS. RMLA is currently serving as the landscape architect for the visitor center access improvements and the river-side garden restoration projects.