I am lucky enough to go to a high school which gives seniors a month off from school to work on a project of their choice. When I started to plan how to spend the month of May, I didn’t expect to end up in Warsaw, Virginia. I discovered Menokin through a family friend, who knew about my interest in historic preservation. She sent me an email one day saying that there was a really interesting place called Menokin right down the road from where she lived, but that she hadn’t gotten the opportunity to visit it yet.
I clicked on the link she sent me, and was immediately fascinated by Menokin. The uniqueness of the project is what drew me here, instead of somewhere closer to home. I really admired the decision to preserve the house as a ruin, instead of trying to restore it to how it once looked. I love being able to see the full story of the house. I decided that Menokin would be a great subject for my project. Coming all the way from Maine, my internship here has been a really interesting way to learn about architecture and history in a setting that is completely new to me.
Now, halfway through my second week here, I’m enjoying making videos about topics like archeology at Menokin, and the descendants of slaves who were here at Menokin. I found it especially interesting listening to an interview with two descendants of a slave who might’ve been at Menokin, Evelyn Parker and Juanita Wells, about their lives growing up in Warsaw. They had some very interesting stories about their family.
I also love getting to walk through the ruins, and see all the pieces of stone and wood from the house spread out on the lawn and in the barn. I love that this is a “touchy-feely kind of place,” as Alice (Menokin Education Coordinator) says, because it’s nice to get to see and touch all the pieces of the house up close, which is so unusual for historic house museums. It also feels great to be in the sun when it’s 40 degrees and raining at home. I’m can’t wait for my next week and a half here at Menokin.