By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- It's the nicest home in Winchester.
The Glen Burnie house, a 6,000-square-foot historic estate on the grounds of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, is set to open to the public on June 10 after an extensive two-year renovation project.
The house sits on land once surveyed and settled by Winchester founder James Wood, and the oldest portions of the house stretch back to 1793 and 1794. Descendant and artist Julian Wood Glass Jr. owned the house with his partner, R. Lee Taylor, from the 1950s until Glass' death in 1992. It opened to the public on a seasonal basis in 1997.
Unlike the roped-off guided tours of their home in previous years, the house can now be used for special events such as lectures, performances and dinners in the same way that Glass and Taylor entertained the guests who visited their country retreat.
A slate of activities is already scheduled for the house next month.
Three black-tie performances of the two-act play "The Hollow Crown" will be held in the house's drawing room from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 5, 6 and 7. The play, first presented by The Royal Shakespeare Company, features eight musicians and actors performing songs and reading from poetry, speeches and letters written by or about Great Britain's monarchs over a period of 800 years, according to a release sent by the museum.
Maral Kalbian, an architectural historian who worked on the Glen Burnie renovation project, will present a lecture from noon to 2 p.m. June 14 about the recent discoveries of the house and its inhabitants.
On June 28, the museum is hosting the Sixties Summer Soirée, a 1960s-style cocktail party in the Glen Burnie house and its surrounding gardens. The soirée will feature dancing to live music by the Jeff Decker Swing Band, complimentary champagne, a pianist playing inside the house, an assortment of 1960s-inspired hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail cash bar.
According to Julie Armel, deputy director of community relations at the museum, the soirée will coincide with the blooming of hundreds of roses in the Glen Burnie garden
The six acres of gardens surrounding the house are nearly as impressive as the house itself.
The roses in the rose garden are planted by color, in assortments of yellow, pink, white, orange and red. Another garden is filled with statues and busts of figures from ancient Greece, and not far from that is a garden planted in the shape of the British Union Jack flag. A pagoda teahouse sits in another garden, along with a pond filled with golden trout.
Inside the Glen Burnie house, original paintings and artifacts owned by Glass will be on display.
Armel said that the new LED lights installed in the house not only save on electricity, but also doesn't damage the artworks like the previous 1960s-era lighting.
A miniature model of the house sits in the center of its dining room, filled with intricate details and tiny furniture.
Armel said the renovations and special events are a way to make the historical house relevant and interesting to people.
"This is an opportunity for people to experience the house just as Julian and Lee used it and lived in it," she said.
Reservations for "The Hollow Crown" performances are required by June 2, and can be made online at theMSV.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 208.
Registration for the "New Discoveries at Glen Burnie" lecture is required by June 6, and can be made online or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 240.
The Sixties Summer Soirée will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. June 28. Reservations can be made online or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 213.
For more information, contact 540-662-1473, ext. 235, or visit theMSV.org.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org