What in the world are we doing at Menokin?

Built as the home of Declaration of Independence signer, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Menokin is now the evocative remains of an historic mansion surrounded by a vast, cultural landscape. The Snowy-Menokin_webMenokin Foundation was established in 1995 to protect and breathe new life into Menokin, and immediately began work to not only reverse the deterioration of the house, but also chart a course for its future.

In casting this vision, the Foundation has always desired to do something innovative. Eighteen years of painstaking research, planning, conserving and gathering the pieces of the “Menokin jigsaw puzzle” have paved the way for an exceptional future.

Menokin is located in Warsaw, Virginia, in the rural region known as the Northern Neck. This region is the birthplace of three early presidents (Washington, Madison, and Monroe) as well as two Signers, Francis Lightfoot Lee and his brother, Richard Henry Lee. The plantation and house were established in 1769 on land once inhabited by the Rappahannock Tribe, who gave the site its name.

Now the Menokin Foundation has embarked on a revolutionary re-imagining of this historic structure. Led by the architecture firm of Machado Silvetti, The Menokin Foundation is transforming this house and 500-acre classroom into an educational and environmental experience like no other.

You are invited to step inside this unfolding story and experience the impact that this mysterious place has on those who have lived and visited here.

6 thoughts on “What in the world are we doing at Menokin?”

  1. I don’t enjoy the idea of replacing the collapsed parts of the house with glass walls and making it an “interactive history center”. I feel that when I go to a historic plantation home such as Mount Vernon, Monticello, etc., I want to see it as Washington and Jefferson saw it. If I were you I would recommend rebuilding the house as it looked when Lee lived there in 1769. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful input on The Menokin Foundation’s plans for this historic site. It’s great to know that people are paying attention to what we’re doing here, whether or not they agree.

      Trust me, you are not alone in feeling that the house should be restored to its original condition. Our Foundation decided in the very beginning to take a revolutionary approach to the preservation of Menokin. We found this to be in keeping with the revolutionary mindset of the man that lived here, Francis Lightfoot Lee.

      Virginia has many fine house museums and much can be learned from them. But not the same kinds of things that can be learned at Menokin. Historic preservationists and ordinary folks alike are very interested in being able to look inside at the skeleton of an 18th century plantation house. Menokin is, in essence, a teaching hospital for 18th century construction techniques and building methods. Experts from universities all over the country have come to Menokin to learn from it’s architectural elements that can be touched and examined in a way that would be impossible in a restored building.

      The current condition of Menokn is one part of its long story, a story that continues to evolve and needs to be told. The marriage of 21st-century materials and technology with the 18th-century fabric allow us to do that.

      I hope you’ll be able to come to Menokin soon and see some of the great work that is being done here. We’ve changed minds before. Either way, please keep in touch with our progress.


      Leslie Rennolds
      Assistant Director, Menokin

  2. Leslie I think you hit it on the head. Menokin is special for many reasons and this project is an exciting one to watch and you all should be commended for thinking differently. We fully support.

    John Tayloe Emery
    Mount Airy

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