The 85-year-old Patterson House on the grounds of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard will close its doors to visitors until sometime in 2021 at the end of September for some much-needed upgrades.
The house’s electrical and HVAC systems remain the same as they were when the house was constructed 85 years ago, explained Mark Thompson, executive director of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. Throughout the next few years, those systems and more will be upgraded.
“It’s supposed to be a historic house museum, but there are things we need to do to make it a better historic house museum,” Thompson said.
In 1932, Jefferson Patterson, a Washington, D.C., diplomat, paid $5,000 to bring the first electric line to the estate. Patterson built the 10,000-square-foot house as a place to get away. At the time, he was a bachelor. He eventually married Mary Marvin Breckenridge Patterson. Despite the size of the house and the Pattersons’ wealth, the home isn’t extraordinarily lavish, but the furnishings are all still original and remain in the same spots the Pattersons placed them.
Mary Patterson was the one who instigated the first archaeological survey of the property, which led to the discovery of significant American Indian activity at the site. Research and education surrounding this continues to this day. Mary Patterson donated the house to the state in 1983 after Jefferson Patterson died in 1977, according to previous reports.
The first step for the upgrades of the historic house will be to pack up, store and catalogue everything in the house, which Thompson said will take months. That’s why the house is closing its doors to visitors at the end of September, even though most of the actual work isn’t expected to take place until 2019.
Upgrades planned also include improving accessibility for people with disabilities, structural integrity, fire suppression and security. The upgrades are funded through the state’s Capital Improvement Plan and have been in the works for years.
“We’re really talking about looking at the house from top to bottom,” Thompson said.
When the house opens back up to visitors, the second floor will be open for the first time in a long time. Currently, only the first floor is open as part of public tours. Also factoring into the multiyear effort is the procurement process through the state to find the right contractor for the historic project.
To say a temporary farewell to the Patterson House, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum will host what Sherwana Knox, special events and marketing coordinator, calls “a regular tour on steroids” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30.
Reminiscent of the Monday Memories tours offered at the house, the Sept. 30 event will include a tour, refreshments and entertainment and is free and open to the public. There will be a tent set up in the backyard overlooking the water.
The free Monday Memories tours of the Patterson House are held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Monday. For more information, call 410-586-8501, or go to www.jefpat.org.