Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall Events Calendar

Beginning Hearth Cooking

Intermediate Hearth CookingJoin us in the hearth kitchen at Gunston Hall for the ultimate experience in slow food as you learn to employ 18th-century cooking techniques and recipes to create period dishes.  Use your hearth skills to investigate complex recipes while cooking over an open flame, take a tour of the house and meet other food enthusiasts.

Pre-requisite: Beginning Hearth Cooking experience strongly recommended.

The class is a one-day session from 10am to 4pm on each weekend day.  Registration includes all materials and lunch. Please plan to wear clothing made from natural fibers, as you will be around open flame.  These include cotton, linen, and wool.  Stay away from garments containing polyester, nylon, acrylic, or lycra.

Registration for Intermediate Hearth Cooking: $125 non-member, $100 Friends of Gunston Hall

Two Day Registration for Beginner and Intermediate: $225 non-member, $175 Friends of Gunston Hall

To register, please call 703-550-9220.SaveSaveSaveSave

Virginia Declaration of Rights
240th Anniversary Celebration

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights...” - Virginia Declaration of Rights

When George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776, he was the first to codify freedoms that Americans still hold dear today. Join Gunston Hall in celebrating the Virginia Declaration of Rights by exploring the democratic ideals penned by Mason. In honor of the 240th anniversary of the ratification of this seminal document, Gunston Hall is planning a year-long celebration with new programs, special events, and community collaborations in 2016.

This educational initiative will include a diverse offering of experiences at Gunston Hall and in locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic. High school students are invited to respond to The NSCDA's 2016 Essay Contest question, centered on the continuing relevance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and to participate in a school program on Mason and the Constitution. People around the world will hear from guest bloggers on the topic of Why Rights Matter.

A schedule of anniversary events is listed below. Stay tuned for additional information!

September 10
Naturalization Ceremony
Gunston Hall, Mason Neck, VA

October 5
Symposium: Dissent in Democracy
National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA

November (Date TBD)
Town Hall: Responsibilities of Citizens
Newseum, Washington, DC

December 15
Bill of Rights Day
National Archives, Washington, DC


Press Contact: David DuVal
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Gunston Hall Receives Highest National Recognition
Awarded Re-Accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums

MASON NECK, VA, July 27, 2015 – Gunston Hall has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. Gunston Hall has been accredited since 1988. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review every ten years to maintain accredited status.

AAM Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for nearly 45 years, AAM’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

Of the nation’s nearly 17,500 museums over 1000 are currently accredited. Gunston Hall is one of 59 museums accredited in Virginia.

“Gunston Hall is honored to have been awarded subsequent accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. I could not be more proud of our Board of Regents, our staff, and our volunteers for their tremendous effort and passionate commitment to meeting all the requirements necessary to be recognized in this fashion,” said Scott Stroh, Gunston Hall’s Executive Director.

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, a panel of seven museum professionals, consider the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“By virtue of being awarded accreditation, Gunston Hall has been recognized as a national leader in the museum field. This professional recognition will enhance our reputation, facilitate partnerships, increase our credibility, and inspire engagement as we strive to fulfill our mission, build audience, garner support, and provide maximum value to those we are proud to serve,” shared Stroh.

Gunston Hall is an educational agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia governed by a Board of Regents comprised of members of The National Society of Colonial Dames of America. As the 18th-century home of George Mason, Gunston Hall is committed to stimulating the continuing public exploration of democratic ideals as first presented by Mason in the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. Gunston Hall features daily guided tours, an active archaeology site, and special events offered throughout the year. For more information, call 703-550-9220 or visit

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 18,000 individual, 3,000 institutional and 300 corporate members, the Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit

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The Architecture of Democracy
November 5, 2015

How does the built environment contribute to or detract from our democracy?  And what ideas and historical events shaped our founders’ ideas of democracy?  Gunston Hall’s upcoming symposium “The Architecture of Democracy” will look both figuratively and literally at some of the ways we have constructed our unique government.

Click here to register. 
$95 for non-members
$75 for members
Registration fee includes morning snacks, lunch, speaking program, a visit to the mansion, and reception.


9:00 a.m.
Registration Opens

9:30 a.m.
Scott M. Stroh, III, Executive Director, Gunston Hall

9:45 a.m.
Speaking Program
Denver Brunsman, George Washington University
"Subjects to Citizens: The Birth of America's Democratic Experiment"

Louis Nelson, University of Virginia
“Architectures of West African Enslavement”

Ryan K. Smith, Virginia Commonwealth University
"Robert Morris's Folly, or, The Place of the Palace in the Early American Republic"

Courtney Speckmann, White House Historical Association
"The White House as 'The People's House'"

4:30 p.m.


Gunston Hall Visitor Center
10709 Gunston Road, Mason Neck, VA 22079

Speaker bios:

Denver Brunsman is Associate Professor of History at George Washington University, where he writes and teaches on the politics and social history of the American Revolution, early American republic, and British Atlantic world. His courses include “George Washington and His World,” taught annually at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. He completed his MA and Ph.D. degrees at Princeton University and his BA at St. Olaf College. His book, The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (2013), received the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for an outstanding work in eighteenth-century studies in the Americas and Atlantic world. He is also a coauthor of the leading college textbook, Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People (2015), as well as an editor of The American Revolution Reader (2013) and Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development (2011), among other works.

Louis Nelson is an Associate Professor of Architectural History, the Associate Dean for Research and International Programs in the School of Architecture, and the Director of the Program in Historic Preservation. He is a specialist in the built environments of American colonial architecture and the architectures and landscapes of the early modern Atlantic world. One of Nelson's recent publications, an article Buildings and Landscapes on "Architectures of West African Enslavement," won the 2015 Bishir Prize for Excellence in Vernacular Architecture and Cultural Landscapes.

Ryan K. Smith has been on the faculty of the Department of History at VCU since 2004, where he is an Associate Professor and also Director of Graduate Studies. Previously, he worked at the Library of Virginia, the Winterthur Museum, and other public history sites. Smith received his Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Delaware in 2002, and an M.A. in American history from the College of William and Mary in 1998. He specializes in American material culture and religious history. His most recent book was published in 2014 by Yale University Press as Robert Morris's Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder.

Courtney Speckmann is the Director of Education at the White House Historical Association, where she has worked for seven years. A graduate of the George Washington University Museum Education Program, Speckmann has also worked at the National Cathedral and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. She has contributed to programs, publications, and exhibitions for visitors and learners of all ages.

Empty Mansion Photo Contest

Gunston Hall is undergoing some restoration this summer as we replace its roof.  In 1931, the last private owner of the home, Louis Hertle, put a slate roof on in an attempt to fireproof the house.  He had recently lost some outbuildings to a conflagration and wanted to prevent that from happening to the 176 year-old home.  With the advent of modern fire-suppression systems, we have decided to restore the roof to its original material, cedar shingles.

In order to facilitate the roof repair, and to ensure the safety of our collections, we have removed them from the mansion.  And because of that, we are allowing photography inside the mansion for the duration of the project. 

We’d like to see what it looks like through your camera lens!

From now until September 30th, we want to see your pictures of Gunston Hall inside and out.  Check back at this space, or on our Facebook page, to see the submissions.  Good luck, and have fun!

Our thanks to all of those who participated and submitted their wonderful photography to our contest.  Winners have been announced, and can be found over on our blog.

Terms and Conditions


 1. The Laundry and Well from Upstairs
By Sarah Guthrie

 2. Looking down on the entry hallway.
By Sarah Guthrie

 3. The mansion after a heavy rainstorm. Taken by Lael Voeller

 4. Just inside the entryway of the mansion looking out the front window. Taken by Lael Voeller

 5. At the top of the main staircase. Taken by Lael Voeller.

 6. The upstairs hallway. Taken by Lael Voeller

 7. The staircase in the main hall looking toward the back porch. Taken by Lael Voeller

 8. A Quiet Moment by Brian Purdy

 9. Ghosts by Brian Purdy

 10. Approaching the front of Gunston Hall by Cassandra Beach

 11. Gunston Hall on a beautiful summer Day! by Cassandra Beach

 12. Looking out the back door in Gunston Hall by Cassandra Beach

 13. Rising Details (main staircase at Gunston Hall, August 2014) by Clare Daly

14. Always there to welcome us home by Andrea Borrelli

15. Looking to the end of the upstairs hallway by Ruth Altheim
 16. 18th Century Floorboards, "Walking in the shadow of George Mason on 18th Century Floorboards" by Megan Fotheringham

 17. A Room with a View by Megan Fotheringham

 18. A Gunston Hall Boxwood Hollow by Megan Fotheringham

 19. Descending Mason' Staircase by Megan Fotheringham

 20. South East Facade of Gunston Hall by Megan Fotheringham

21. Front room during restoration by David Oettinger

 22. Main hall looking upstairs toward rear by David Oettinger

 23. Upstairs rear bedroom by David Oettinger

 24. Child in Room by David Oettinger

 25. Gunston front window by David Oettinger

 26. Open room by David Oettinger

 27. Rear lawn by David Oettinger

  28. Averie Saenz playing the recorder at Gunston Hall by RoShal Saenz

 29. Boxwood welcome to Gunston Hall by David J Daly

 30. Views of Laundry Day by David J Daly

 31. Gnarled boxwood on Gunston Hall Grounds by David J Daly

 32. Gunston Hall gable by David J Daly

 33. In Gunston Hall's shadow by David J Daly

 34. From under the Willow Oak by Karen Hawbecker

 35. Schoolhouse Panorama by Karen Hawbecker

  36. Light & Dark (Hallway facing the schoolhouse) by Brian Purdy

  37. Back door view from Gunston Hall by Ruth Altheim

 38. Second floor landing view of entry by Ruth Altheim

 39.Leaving the Cemetery by Peter Rhee

 40. Looking from Behind by Peter Rhee

41. School by Peter Rhee

42. The Lonely Chair by Peter Rhee

 43. The Road In by Peter Rhee

 44. Awestruck by April Killian

 45. A Colonial Education by April Killian

 46. Window to the Kitchen Yard by April Killian

 47. Where's the River, Mom? by April Killian

 48. Looking Out by April Killian

 49. Buckets and Jugs by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 50. Elegant Angles by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 51. Floor Planks by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 52. Floral Scrollwork by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 53. Garden View by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 54. Geometric Patterns by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 55. Open Door by Theresa Leininger-Miller

56. Scrollwork by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 57. Spiderweb at Gunston by Theresa Leininger-Miller

 58. Twisted Old Boxwood at Gunston Hall by Theresa Leininger-Miller

  59. At the Helm by Amy Barrett

 60. Attending the Day by Amy Barrett

 61. Growing Figs by Amy Barrett

 62. Path to Another Way of Life by Amy Barrett

 63. Stepping into Labor Day by Amy Barrett

 64. Barrels and Jugs by Brian Sweeney

 65. Buckets in the Sun by Brian Sweeney

 66. Spring at Gunston by Brian Sweeney

 67. George and Ann Mason, Final Resting Place by Brian Sweeney

 68. Gunston Front by Brian Sweeney

 69. Gunston Mansion Side by Brian Sweeney

 70. Past Perspective 1 by Hannah Wheeler

 71. Past Perspective 2 by Hannah Wheeler

 72. Past Perspective 3 by Hannah Wheeler

 73. Past Perspective 4 by Hannah Wheeler

 74. Past Perspective 5 by Hannah Wheeler

 75. Bannister by Brian Purdy

 76. School Master's View by Brian Purdy

 77. Private Hallway by Brian Purdy

 78. Bucket on the Well by Brian Sweeney

 79. George Mason by Brian Sweeney

 80. Walkway to the Burial Ground by Brian Sweeney

 81. School Master's Quill by Brian Sweeney

 82. Antique Door Knob by Lillis Werder

 83. Brilliant Mantle by Lillis Werder

 84. Golden Hour at Gunston Hall by Lillis Werder

 85. Golden Light of Day by Lillis Werder

 86. Mahogany Dream Entrance by Lillis Werder

 87. Mahogany Staircase Detail by Lillis Werder

 88. Pair of Chairs by Lillis Werder

 89. View to Boxwoods by Lillis Werder

 90. A Pathway to History, Walk from the Visitors' Center by Rebecca Graham

 91. A peek into the Chamber by Rebecca Graham

92. Old School House by Rebecca Graham

 93. Potomac View from the Back Porch by Rebecca Graham

94. The Necessities in Life, Outbuildings by Rebecca Graham

95. The Palladian Room by Rebecca Graham

96. Welcome to the Past, Door Connecting the Chinese Room and the Palladian Room by Rebecca Graham.

 97. Upstairs Bedroom by Brian Sweeney

98. Grand Entrance by Brian Sweeney

 99. Robber Window by Brian Sweeney

 100. Upstairs Fireplace by Brian Sweeney

 101. Upstairs Hall by Brian Sweeney

102. Grass and House by Grant Heineman

 103. Heavenly Staircase by Grant Heineman

104. Light at the End of a Hallway by Grant Heineman

 105. Tree and House by Grant Heineman

106. Two Chairs and Staircase by Grant Heineman

 107. Ascension by Chadd Michael

 108. Corridor Whispers by Chadd Michael

 109. Countless Footsteps by Chadd Michael

 110. Eye of the Arch by Chadd Michael

 111. Sleeping by Chadd Michael

 112. Storm Door by Chadd Michael

 113. A Well Worn Path by Chadd Michael

 114. A lantern by the Mason family burying ground by Alison Rice

 115. Building a house for Checkers the Koala by Alison Rice

 116. Checkers the Koala by Alison Rice

117. Lucy and Charlotte Malin with their completed brick home for Checkers the Koala by Alison Rice

 118. Out to the Boxwoods by Alison Rice










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