The City of Fredericksburg and Washington Heritage Museums have agreed to a Letter of Intent (LOI) that is expected to culminate in the nonprofit taking over ownership and maintenance of the Mary Washington Monument and Caretaker’s Lodge property at 1500 Washington Avenue.
Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted for the LOI, which the City’s Memorials Advisory Commission approved last month. The LOI can be found here.
The LOI calls for a portion of the property, approximately three-quarters of an acre, to be deeded to Washington Heritage Museums, subject to a historic preservation easement, following an approximately six-month process. The property will include the Caretaker’s Lodge, the monument, the Gordon Family Cemetery and Meditation Rock. The remainder of the property will continue to be owned by the City and remain part of Memorial (Kenmore) Park.
For several years, the City has been weighing what to do with this 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.
As part of the transfer of ownership, Washington Heritage Museums will put together a development and fundraising plan that will lead to investments in the property to turn it into more of a tourism asset for the City. The nonprofit organization, which owns and operates Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and St. James’ House, plans a small museum inside the Lodge telling the history of the monument. It is considered to be the first monument in the country funded and erected by women, for a woman.
“Washington Heritage Museums is truly honored to be considered as the next steward of the Monument,” the organization’s executive director, Anne Darron, told City Council on Tuesday. “The organization looks forward to developing the site to its fullest potential as a tourism asset in the City of Fredericksburg.”