Josiah Henson Park Visitor Center & Museum

Cultural, Historic, Award Winning, Historic

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The Josiah Henson Park is a 1.43 acre historic park home to a small portion of the original Riley plantation where Reverend Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave from 1795 to 1830. Henson's 1849 autobiography is said to have inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Maryland’s Montgomery County Department of Parks engaged Ziger|Snead Architects to transform the former plantation site and historic home to serve as a public and historical park and house museum with interpretive exhibits. A new respectful and deferential visitor center provides a starting point for the visitor experience with a media- rich orientation room. The original tidewater plantation house dated the early 1800’s, along with the attached log kitchen, is restored with modern interventions that rectify past changes and accommodate interpretative exhibits.

Challenges include: buffering views and noise from the major thoroughfare; navigating steep site topography; delivering a controlled museum environment within the historic house; coordinating site design with mature and historically significant trees and ongoing archaeological exploration; numerous unforeseen conditions during construction; and orchestrating the visitor experience for school groups on a small site.

Overcoming these challenges, the transformed park is a powerful example of stewardship of cultural resources associated with enslavement and the enslaved experience.


Design Team: Steve ZigerChristopher Brown; Miharu Morimoto; Travis Akiwowo; Darragh Brady; Will Rhode

Team: AMT Engineering - Civil; Floura Teeter Landscape Architects - Landscape Architecture; FLUX Studios - Lighting Consultant; Forella Group - Cost Estimating; Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates - Geo-Technical Engineer; Jensen Hughes - Fire & Life Safety; Keast & Hood Co. - Structural; Mueller Associates - MEP; Watson & Henry - Historic Building Envelope Consultant; Wendy Jessup and Associates, Inc. - Conservation Consultant

Owner: Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Location: Rockville, Maryland

Completion: 12/2020

Area: 3,130 SF Addition; 3,394 SF Historic Renovation; 1.43 acres