History Detectives

cbgs camp web (3)The Menokin Visitor’s Center and Site played host for three days recently, when approximately 90 kids, ages 9 to 13, participating in the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School Summer Program, came here to learn about the house, the land and the people who have lived here.

Organized by Menokin Education Coordinator, Alice French, each student was given a field book for their notes and observations. Among other things, they learned:

  • How to draw an elevation of the house CBGS-Summer-Camp-(5)
  • What materials make up the house, how they are layered and why and what the size, shape, landscaping and design of the house tells us about the people who lived in it.

Students studied examples of documents recording each families’ history here.
By looking at Menokin records – census, inventories, letters – they were able to make comparisons of changing relationships to the house.

Becky Marks and Sharon Parr from the Richmond County Museum brought in an extensive collection of Indian artifacts from the tribes that inhabited Menokin and nearby areas in pre-Colonial times. The students were able to handle projectile points, pottery shards and animal skins, and learned how they were made and what purposes they served in the day to day lives of these indigenous people.

History went underground in the afternoon when the students were able to work with a team of archaeologists from DATA Investigations on actual digs happening on the property. Two test units located in close proximity of the house were established to conduct professionally supervised excavations that incorporated student involvement while pursuing established research goals of the Menokin Foundation.

Existing artifacts were also available for students to learn methods of cleaning washing those that are actually excavated from the ground.

The week ended with a gaggle of happy campers!

"Happy campers!"
“Happy campers!”


Register Now for the Carpentry Conservation Workshop

Conservation at Menokin  CARPENTRY WORKSHOP

October 12 – 13, 2013


Carpentry Rack Card_front
Click image for link to a printable registration brochure.
  • Old growth and Second growth
  • Wood quality
  • Grading lumber
  • Specific woods for specific jobs
  • Skills and knowledge gained: a comprehensive understanding of unique qualities of wood species and their use in traditional building

Day 2: Traditional Tools and Methods

  • Traditional woodworking tools
  • How to make repairs to beams, splices, scarf joints, Dutchman etc.
  • Window design, restoration, and maintenance
  • Door design, restoration, and maintenance
  • Skills and knowledge gained: a preliminary
    knowledge of traditional wood working tools and their uses; an understanding of the traditional design of wood windows and doors, how to restore them, and tips for routine maintenance


Land Art Field Trip Reflection

By Alice French – Education and Outreach Coordinator at Menokin

JULY 3, 2013

I spent the day today with Lance and Carl and their Grandmother, Frances Lively.

We learned a little bit about Francis Lightfoot Lee and his house explored the Visitor Center with a scavenger map.

Next we talked about the landscape we were in.  We talked about the importance of taking care of the land and water here too.  Next we looked at some images by land-art artist, Andy Goldsworthy.

Alice, our day at Menokin was a definite highlight of the week. My grandson did not stop talking about it and gave a full briefing to his grandfather and his parents. Your knowledge, Menokin’s story, and our walk through the house helped transport us to Francis Lightfoot Lee’s era. Thanks for a terrific adventure.

Then we went on a hike.  We looked at all the different types of plants we could identify.  We walked down the trail to Cat Point Creek.  Along the way we talked about the rolling roads and boats coming up the creek to ship merchandise down the Rappahannock River.  We identified different trees on the trail, came across a box turtle, and looked for other wild life.

After the trail hike, we took a break at the picnic tables under the trees by the House.  Here we pulled out some maps and talked about what a watershed is. 

We walked around the house and talked about the architecture and gardens.

Finally before we were done, we made our own piece of Land Art.  The boys looked for something in the landscape and built a design inside a tree trunk with walnuts which had fallen to the ground.  The first design followed the swirling pattern of the tree trunk.  The second one filled up the entire trunk and topped it off with a feather found lying on the ground in front of the house.

It was hot!  But we had a lot of fun!  And remembered that tomorrow we are celebrating the fact that Francis Lightfoot Lee, would be signing the Declaration of Independence.

Go Frank!