Prince George’s County officials hope three major seasonal events will help turn the Marietta House Museum in Glenn Dale into a popular county destination.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will kick off these spotlight efforts for the 200-year-old mansion with a May 25 wine festival. The festival is the first for the Natural and Historical Resources Division, which manages 52 historic sites around the county, said Mary Amen, the mansion’s facility director.
Amen, who came up with the ideas for the events, said a fall jazz festival and Christmas feast are also planned this year.
The M-NCPPC closed the mansion in 2010 because of a lack of public interest — the site was bringing in only about 400 visitors annually. The group planned to turn it into office space, but outcry from the community made M-NCPPC officials reconsider. The mansion was fully reopened in 2012, Amen said.
Last year, the site attracted 2,000 visitors, compared with 20,000 for the Clinton-based Surratt House, Amen said. Surratt House was the home of Mary Surratt, a woman linked to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Marietta doesn’t have that national history connection, Amen said.
The Marietta mansion, at 5626 Bell Station Rd., is a monument to late Federal-style brick house design and to the county’s Duvall family. Family patriarch Gabriel Duvall served in the Revolutionary War and built the mansion in 1813, while serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to M-NCPPC records.
The museum’s operating cost was about $122,000 in fiscal 2013, said Cathy Allen, an M-NCPPC assistant division chief.
There are no immediate plans to close the facility, Amen said, despite the low attendance. They would like to see about 10,000 visitors a year, she said.
The mansion and the 25-acre plot of land it sits on have been a community centerpiece in addition to a historic presence, said Lillian Becker, president of the Glenn Dale Citizens Association.
“For so many of the people in the community, this has been something their family has been tied to,” Becker said. “It’s like the heart of the community.”
M-NCPPC advertises the house as it does other facilities, on the organization’s Web site as well as in mailings to surrounding neighborhoods, but it doesn’t have a large budget for print and radio ads, Allen said.
After the facility’s temporary closure, the house needs extra exposure, said Nora Wixon, a member of the GDCA and the Friends of Marietta House Museum, which fought to reopen the property.
“I would think you would have to double and triple your outreach to let people know that you’re open and welcome them to attend,” Wixon said.