First Visitor Center

Named for Eleanor and Louis Hertle, this brick structure was constructed in the 1950s as the museum’s first visitor center.  Today it houses staff offices and workspaces.  

Gunston Hall passed out of the Mason family with the death of George Mason VI in 1834. Subsequent owners and unknown numbers of workers and servants, both paid and enslaved, lived on the estate, but the aging mansion gradually fell into relative obscurity and decay.

All of this changed when Eleanor and Louis Hertle purchased the mansion in 1912. The Hertles wanted not only to rebuild the home, but to celebrate the life of Gunston Hall’s most famous inhabitant, George Mason IV. They set about restoring the home to better reflect its original appearance and encouraged research and architectural studies of the surviving colonial decor. The Hertles began showing the property to guests, establishing an embryonic museum.

With the death of Eleanor Hertle, Louis opted to follow her wish that Gunston Hall be donated to the Commonwealth of Virginia, to be managed by a board appointed by the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America. This unique public-private partnership took over management of Gunston Hall after the death of Louis Hertle.

Since 1952, the Board of Regents of Gunston Hall and the Commonwealth of Virginia have welcomed guests and educated the public about George Mason and the development of American rights. The story has also expanded to tell a more complete story of everyone that resided at Gunston Hall, from the women of the Mason family to the enslaved community who lived and worked in a system that denigrated their humanity.

With your support, Gunston Hall can continue to welcome guests, students, and scholars in exploration of America’s past, and make George Mason’s loftiest ideals a reality for everyone.

What will you learn about next?