Happy Retreat is the estate built by Charles Washington (1738-1799), President George Washington’s youngest brother. Located at the edge of his namesake town, Charles Town, WV the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property comprises an 18th century mansion and outbuildings on a 2-acre site surrounded by a 10-acre park owned by the City of Charles Town. SGA was retained as lead design consultants to develop a master plan to adapt the building complex into an indoor/outdoor events venue with supportive facilities for historic artifact archives and academic research. The overall approach to the project focused on creating revenue generating uses that greatly increase visitation to the site and generate financial resources needed to support its long-term historic material conservation and protection.
SGA prepared a comprehensive cultural landscape plan that established a site interpretative strategy that incorporates a “complete” telling of the story of the site’s history, including the incorporation of the history of slavery at the site. SGA developed construction documents for the upgrade of site circulation, inclusion of ADA facilities, carefully buffered parking, and a historically appropriate landscape planting palette. Strategic upgrades and modern interventions were designed to avoid impacts to historically significant building fabric and design elements.