City, Washington Heritage Museums discussing partnership
The property includes the grave of and monument to Mary Washington, along with Meditation Rock, the Gordon Family Cemetery, and the Caretaker’s Lodge. The City has owned the property since 1966.
For several years, the City has been weighing what to do with the property. It has been sporadically occupied as a residence for recently hired senior City staff as they look for housing, but it has mostly been vacant. The City has maintained the property but has not put the level of investment into it that could help it achieve its full potential as a tourism asset.
Washington Heritage Museums (WHM), a 501(c)(3) membership organization that owns and maintains four historic house museums in downtown Fredericksburg, has expressed an interest in taking over ownership and maintenance responsibility for the property. The mission of WHM is to preserve, promote, and maintain its four 18th-century properties (Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, and St. James’ House), and to develop dynamic educational resources and programs to engage and inspire the interest of everyone.
Fredericksburg City staff and WHM leadership have worked together to develop a draft Letter of Intent (LOI) outlining the required steps toward WHM taking over and enhancing the property. Details can be found here.
Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday unanimously referred the draft LOI to the Memorials Advisory Commission, which is responsible for advising the City on matters pertaining to the maintenance and preservation of the property. The Commission plans to meet in the next few weeks. A revised LOI (if necessary) could then be brought back to City Council for consideration. After that, the steps laid out in the non-binding LOI would begin and could culminate in the City conveying the 0.75-acre property to WHM by deed of gift, subject to a historic preservation easement.
This process is likely to last approximately six months.