Tag Archives: Calder Loth

Menokin Hits the Road to Fredericksburg

The Menokin Foundation will be hitting the road later this month… Next stop: the University of Mary Washington!

Please join the Menokin Foundation, in partnership with UMW Libraries and the Center for Historic Preservation, on September 28th for a free lecture, reception, and exhibit opening of The Menokin Foundation: Re-Imagining a Ruin.

Honorary Menokin Trustee and architectural historian Calder Loth will be speaking at 6:30 pm on the Menokin Glass Project and its relevance and importance in the changing field of Historic Preservation. Following the lecture will be a light reception and viewing of the new Menokin exhibit in the Hurley Convergence Center Gallery. The event is free to attend. To RSVP, visit Menokin.org/Events or call (804) 333-1776.

The Menokin exhibit in the Convergence Gallery will feature a timeline of the Menokin Glass project, from concept and planning to stabilization and enclosure. Visitors will see the most current renderings of the structure and enjoy a photo essay of Menokin’s archaeological artifacts. This exhibit will be on display September 28th through December 18th.

Click on the image to RSVP for the Lecture.
Click on the image to RSVP for the Lecture.

This Place Matters

Menokin Matters to many people. Over 200 of them came to a Gala on Sunday, May 15, to honor two — Helen and Tayloe Murphy — for their decades of service to Virginia, the Northern Neck, the Garden Club of Virginia and the Northern Neck, and the Menokin Foundation.

Most agree that Menokin Matters. But to many of them, as of Sunday, it now matters a little bit more. This is true for many reasons, all of them sound and valid. But for most, it is because of the words of this man. Calder Loth.

Calder Loth - Retired Architectural Historian with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Honorary Trustee of the Menokin Foundation.
Calder Loth – Retired Architectural Historian with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Honorary Trustee of the Menokin Foundation.

Calder has been a huge part of the Campaign to Save Menokin long before there was a campaign; long before there was a Menokin Foundation; long before the house was a ruin; long before the woodwork was removed. His knowledge of, and passion for Menokin are  unparalleled. He was the obvious choice to be the keynote speaker at the Gala.

I am privileged to have the opportunity to share his speech with you here. Believe me when I tell you that reading these remarks in no way touches the magic of hearing them spoken aloud by Calder. Among his many gifts, public speaking is truly one.

Comments by Calder Loth at the May 15, 2016
Menokin Foundation Gala in Honor of Helen and Tayloe Murphy

You may wonder why I was asked to speak to you about Tayloe and Helen at this event. I did too.  I think it may be because Tayloe and I are among the few people still alive who daringly ventured into Menokin while the house was still completely intact.  I trespassed in 1965 with two of my U.Va. colleagues.  

Tayloe is too polite to trespass; I’m sure he got permission. 

Nonetheless, Tayloe has known and fretted about Menokin longer than any of us. Being a native of the Northern Neck, and one with family connections to this place, and, more importantly, a student of our nation’s history, he can appreciate more than any of us what a priceless and significant historic place this is, even as we see it now.

Decades before the Menokin Foundation was formed, Tayloe worked, albeit unsuccessfully, to purchase Menokin for preservation.  But it couldn’t be bought then.  

Beginning in the late 1960s, as the house crumbled and the interior woodwork disappeared, all we could do was despair— at least until the summer of 1985 when I received a phone call from Dora Riccardi.  She told me that she and her brother Edgar Omohundro were the owners of Menokin.  

She said she’d received a letter from the National Park Service threatening to remove the property’s National Historic Landmark status because of its deteriorated condition.  She didn’t want that to happen.  She said she and her brother were now willing to sell Menokin to an entity that would preserve it.

And she wanted to know if I would help them.  Well sure!  What else could I say?  But I did say it could take a while, and it did.   

My first thought was to work with an educational institution.  The University of Mary Washington seemed an obvious choice.  Some months later Mary Washington organized a meeting at Wakefield to explore options.

Attending that meeting was Tayloe Murphy…. the first time I met him. He asserted his passion and concern for Menokin and promised to do anything he could to help our efforts.

Also attending was a retired corporate executive, who kept needling me about realistic strategies for which I had no good answers.

Rather than get impatient, I said to myself, this guy seems pretty organized, and has time on his hands; we can use him. It was Martin King. The rest is history.

Martin initially felt we needed to work with the APVA, now Preservation Virginia. So in August of 1985, APVA staff member, Richard Rennolds, and I met here with Edgar Omohundro just to see what we were up against.   I don’t know if any of you have ever seen a Mayan ruin before restoration, but that’s what this place looked like— jungle-like.

In the course of the discussion, we asked Mr. Omohundro, what happened to the interior woodwork. Was it sold or stolen?   He said no. He said he couldn’t protect the house from thieves so he had the woodwork removed in 1967 and stored in a vacant house nearby.  We asked if we could see it. He said sure.

Whereupon we went to the subject house, and like King Tut’s tomb, we looked in, and saw wonderful things.  It was all there.  But the house was unsecured. Its front wall was actually bulging out.  Richard said this stuff is not safe here and offered to move it to secure storage at Bacon’s Castle;  and there it remained for more than a decade. 

So fast forward to 1995. By then, Edgar Omohundro was the sole owner. Taking advantage of this situation, Martin King proved to be a negotiator more skilled than Donald Trump.  He convinced Omohundro to give Menokin (500 acres with waterfront!) as well as the woodwork, to the Menokin Foundation.  That was pretty brazen. There wasn’t any foundation. It had to be quickly formed.  Martin then asked Omohundro whatever happened to the carved keystone from the front entrance.  Omohundro said “Why it’s under my back porch, you can have that too.“

Well, the foundation was duly formed with Martin as President and Tayloe as Vice President.

Now I could go on and on about all that’s happened since the Foundation was formed twenty years ago.   But I need to say what a privilege it is this day to celebrate Menokin, whose original occupant, Francis Lightfoot Lee, put his life on the line by signing a document that created our nation.
His action, and that of his colleagues—the signers, has impacted all our lives and millions more. And we are making Menokin a site that will continue to change lives. 

The ancient Romans talked about the Genius Loci, the spirit of the place, the effect a place has on one’s psyche.  The Genius Loci has profoundly permeated the Northern Neck.  This rural peninsula has produced people who have changed the course of history, even world history. I don’t know what it is about the Northern Neck that made that happen, but it did happen.  Our challenge here is to nourish that spirit, and to protect the tangible evidence of that spirit in order to continue to make it happen.  

The Genius Loci of the Northern Neck has certainly permeated Helen and Tayloe Murphy. What is it about this area that instills in one the energy, drive, determination, and dedication, to serve?  Some of that just might be a character trait that’s fast becoming rare: Noblesse Oblige–the instinct that tells one: I am privileged, therefore I have the privilege to enrich others who are not as privileged as I. 

Our Constitution did away with a legalized hereditary nobility. But I don’t think any would say that Tayloe and Helen are not of a noble class—not noble in terms of social status, but noble in character and dedication, just as was Francis Lightfoot Lee.    

To read the full list of their records of service would keep us here well into the night.  So I will just focus on their relation to this place.   As we all know, Tayloe long served this region as a delegate in the General Assembly. And through that office he helped secure funds for the huge canopy that has protected the ruin for the past sixteen years- a reliquary for our precious relic.

 When Governor Warner picked Tayloe to be his Secretary of Natural Resources (and no one has been better qualified for that office before or since), Tayloe properly resigned from the Menokin board to avoid conflict of interest. So who could replace him? Helen!  Indeed, Helen became Foundation President, and gracefully guided us for several years of a challenging period.

And if she didn’t have enough to do, she has also served as the Chairman of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (my office), and President of the Garden Club of the Northern Neck, and the Garden Club of Virginia.

Now when Helen’s term on the Menokin Foundation concluded, can we guess who replaced her? A well-qualified former cabinet Secretary.

It was during Tayloe’s and Helen’s tenures as foundation president that the concept evolved for treating Menokin in a unique way—not an ordinary restoration or reconstruction, but what I call a high-tech anastylosis.

An anastylosis is the scholarly term given for the treatment of ancient Greek and Roman ruins– that is gathering up the stone fragments of a ruined temple and fitting them into a reconstruction, with all the missing elements in new stone.      

With Menokin, we are putting the missing elements back in glass– in a very high-tech system of architectural engineering that has never been done before.  It will offer a new way of interpreting colonial architecture and construction techniques.  And it will be really interesting looking! 

So — high-tech anastylosis—a 21st-century approach to restoration and interpretation.   

It has taken countless hours of working with numerous architects, contractors, and specialists to develop a feasible design out of a nebulous but enticing concept.  And the stabilization of the mansion’s original stone foundation to support the new structural materials is starting this summer, finally! 

Your support is making this happen. Your continued support will bring this captivating concept into reality. Seeing it come together will be intriguing to watch.  And viewing this construction process will be an essential component of our education program.   

With the mention of education, we should ask: why are we doing this?

 Foremost, we are paying off a debt to Frank Lee, for what he did for us 240 years ago.  In so doing, we are making Menokin a learning place, not an ordinary tourist attraction. 

Our high-tech anasytlosis will be Menokin’s unique focal point, its main draw.  But Menokin is multifaceted. Menokin is also a nature preserve— a nationally significant bird habitat. Our 500 acres has prehistoric archaeology: Menokin has nourished people for more than a 1000 years. We have slave archaeology and potential for unique garden archaeology. And with all our original architectural fabric, we can offer the study of architectural conservation and preservation theory.

But very importantly— we can also focus on patriotism, making Menokin a venue for deliberating the ideas of citizenship and public service. Menokin has true Genius Loci.

So this is a really a splendid occasion—one to celebrate Menokin on the cusp of a new and exciting period of its history, and an occasion to thank you for helping to make this happen,  and to invite you to sustain the momentum.

And what an honor it is today to honor two people, Helen and Tayloe Murphy, who have so graciously served this site, this region, and this Commonwealth in so many ways, for so many years, and are still doing so.

So please give them our heartfelt applause.

And applaud we did. Hearts were opened. Energy and resolve were confirmed and renewed. Support flowed in (well over $100,000 raised in one evening!).

What is this magic that Menokin holds over us? Why do we work so hard and so long to save it? The answer is obvious.  This place matters.



Bucket List – Visit to Bacon’s Castle

If woodwork could talk, the Menokin collection could write a novel.

Menokin Trustee, Calder Loth and former Development Director of the APVA (now Preservation Virginia) Richard Rennolds (my brother-in-law) were instrumental in gaining stewardship of the  woodwork upon locating it in the possession of Edgar Omohundro, the final surviving owner of Menokin, who had removed it for safekeeping.

Peanut barn
Peanut barn

The peanut barn at Bacon’s Castle sheltered Menokin’s paneling from the weather for several decades, until it returned home in the early 21st century. The location was chosen because the aforementioned Richard Rennolds had lived at Bacon’s Castle for a number of years as an APVA employee and was able to make the arrangements.

So, a visit to Bacon’s Castle has long been on my bucket list, as well as the “Must See” list of the intrepid ladies of Menokin. Fortunately for me (not so much for the other ladies) I was finally able to make the trip, as it coincided with a Mother’s Day trip to Williamsburg.

Ferry ride across the James
Ferry ride across the James

The ferry ride across the James from Jamestown to Surry County hasn’t changed all that much in the 30+ years since my last ride as a college student. The boats are bigger and there a few more of them, but the lines are still long and the view is still spectacular.

staircase from top floorEveryone has their version of a ghost story, as Bacon’s Castle is known to be haunted. Even my husband chimed in with a few from the nights he had spent there with his brother’s family.  Luckily no hairs were raised on this visit. But the winding stairwell from the first floor to the garret rooms on the top floor ended in bloodstained floorboards that always reappeared despite vigorous scrubbing. The boards have been replaced, much to my husband’s disappointment.

Spinning wheel in a garret room
Spinning wheel in a garret room

None of the furnishings are original but there are some period pieces that were curated from England to help tell the story of the house and its inhabitants.

The brick work and carved paneling are original and ornate. The removal of paint layers revealed children’s drawings on the wall of the what is now affectionately referred to as the “graffiti room.”

Graffiti Room
Graffiti Room
jacobean compass rose
Jacobean Compass Rose

This compass rose motif (pictured below) was in the center of exposed beams that frame the ceiling  in more than one of the main level rooms of the house.

Several original outbuildings still stand in varying degrees of  decay, including some storage barns, a slave cabin and a smoke house. The organic, weathered fabric matches the feel of property and the area, which has weathered many centuries of hard use and neglect. Like Menokin, the exposed structural elements lend authenticity and character to the visitor experience.

I am so glad that I was finally able to tour this remarkable place and I encourage you to add it to your own bucket list of historic sites to visit. I can’t say that it’s on your way from anywhere to anywhere, but it’s certainly worth the detour.

Bacon's Castle
Bacon’s Castle
Rusty hinge
Rusty hinge


Outbuildings behind house.
Outbuildings behind house.
View of slave quarters from upstairs window.
View of slave quarters from upstairs window.
Detail of hash marks to help hold plaster.
Detail of hash marks to help hold plaster.










Menokin Speaker Series: 2016 Lineup


Historic Reconstructions
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Calder Loth
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

This premiere lecture centers on reconstructions, i.e. lost works of architecture that have been completely rebuilt such as the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg. The structures are not limited to the United States but include examples in Germany, Russia, Italy, England, China, etc.  Menokin’s Glass Project  will be featured as a special case.


Calder Loth - Retired Architectural Historian with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Honorary Trustee of the Menokin Foundation.
Calder Loth – Retired Architectural Historian with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Honorary Trustee of the Menokin Foundation.

In a career spanning four decades, Calder Loth, as senior architectural historian at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, shaped the direction of historic preservation programs from survey and National Register listings to rehabilitation tax credits, review and compliance, and preservation easements. Calder is a long-standing member of the Virginia Art and Architecture Review Board. His expertise has shaped the preservation and renovation of many buildings including the Virginia State Capital and the historic executive mansion. He continues to give back to the preservation community as a staunch advocate and widely published author for “architectural literacy” giving lectures to museums, universities, and professional societies worldwide.  In 2008, Calder received the first annual “Secretary of the Interior Historic Preservation Award” given by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.  He has been an Honorary Trustee of the Menokin Foundation since its inception in 1994.

Purchase tickets online.



JULY 28, 2016

Menokin Geology: The Anomoly of Iron-infused Sandstone
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Dr. Christopher “Chuck” Bailey
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

Geological map of Virginia
Geological map of Virginia
Students in Dr. Bailey's geology class posing in front of Menokin
Students in Dr. Bailey’s geology class posing in front of Menokin

In eastern Virginia stone houses are rare. Important colonial buildings in the Tidewater region are primarily constructed of brick. This makes sense, as the Atlantic Coastal Plain is rich with sand and clay, the main ingredients in bricks, and rocks are rare on the Coastal Plain. Professor and Chair of the Geology Department at the College of William and Mary, Chuck Bailey, will discuss the unique geological phenomena that allowed for sandstone to be present on the property, an uncommon material in Tidewater Virginia. This natural occurrence allowed for the Menokin House to be built from iron infused sandstone.


Dr. Christopher “Chuck” Bailey
  • Ph.D. & M.A., Johns Hopkins University
  • B.S., College of William & Mary
Research Interests

Structural Geology, Tectonics, & Landscape History

I’m a structural geologist whose research focuses on the geometry and tectonic history of deformed rocks as well as the physical and chemical processes that control rock deformation.  I am particularly interested in ductile fault zones (high-strain zones) and work to understand both the deformation path experienced by mylonitic rocks as well as elucidate the tectonic history recorded by these important crustal structures.

With William & Mary undergraduates I’ve studied deformed rocks in the Appalachian Mountains, the low deserts of southern Arizona, the high plateaus of Utah, the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, and most recently in Oman examining its vast and well-exposed ophiolite.  Although the Appalachians Mountains have been studied for over two centuries, many key aspects of their history remain unanswered. Our studies in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont provinces are wide-ranging and integrate structural analysis with petrology, sedimentology, geochronology, and geologic mapping.  In Utah our research focuses on understanding the interplay between volcanism, tectonics, and surface processes in the transition region between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin & Range.

Over the past 18 years I’ve advised more than 100 undergraduate thesis projects at William & Mary.


JUNE 23, 2016

(Rescheduled from February, 2016)

Henry Box Brown: Famous Fugitive, Trans-Atlantic Performer
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Jeffrey Ruggles
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

Henry "Box" Brown The resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia. Who escaped from Richmond Va in a Box 3 feet long 2 1/2 ft deep and 2 ft wide entered according to act of Congress the year 1850 by Henry Box Brown in the clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusetts
Henry “Box” Brown The resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia. Who escaped from Richmond Va in a Box 3 feet long 2 1/2 ft deep and 2 ft wide entered according to act of Congress the year 1850 by Henry Box Brown in the clerk’s office of the District Court of Massachusetts

Henry Brown escaped from slavery by shipping himself in a box from Richmond to Philadelphia. This bold feat was only the first act of a remarkable career. “Resurrected” from the box as Henry Box Brown, he appeared at antislavery meetings as a singer and speaker. In 1850, Brown produced a moving panorama, a kind of giant painted scroll presented in a theater, called Mirror of Slavery and toured it around New England and then across the Atlantic. Trace this remarkable journey with Jeffrey Ruggles, former Curator of Prints and Photographs, Virginia Historical Society, and author of The Unboxing of Henry Brown, Library of Virginia, 2003.


jeffrey-ruggles-bio, Art historianJeffrey Ruggles is an historian and photographer with interests in the history of American culture, Virginia, and visual art. His book The Unboxing of Henry Brown (Library of Va., 2003) is a biography of the fugitive slave and performer Henry Box Brown. From 2002–10 Mr. Ruggles worked at Virginia Historical Society where he served as Curator of Prints and Photographs. His Photography in Virginia (2008) is a companion book to a 2008–09 exhibition at VHS. Other VHS exhibitions were Early Images of Virginia Indians (2003) and Organized Labor in Virginia (2010), and a long-term installation at Battle Abbey, The Virginia Manufactory of Arms (2005-15). Mr. Ruggles has degrees from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, and is an administrator at the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU in Richmond.

MAY 26, 2016

Great Road Style:  The Decorative Arts Legacy Of Southwest Virginia
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Betsy White
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

51ZP651M0FLFor the past 15 years, Betsy White and her team of scholars have been delving into the decorative arts traditions of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee, parts of two states linked geographically, culturally, and historically. Settled during the last years of the 18th and first years of the 19th centuries, it became America’s first frontier, connecting the eastern seaboard with Kentucky, Tennessee, and beyond. Its settlers came down the Valley of Virginia on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road or simply the Great Road, as it was known locally. Artisans followed settlers, bringing with them the material culture of their homelands. What sprang up was a lively blend of cultural traditions that formed a distinctive style of furniture, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and music. Join Betsy White as she leads us through the friendly country forms of pie safes and quilts, overshot coverlets woven from wool and flax grown on the homeplace, elegant high-style furniture made by Philadelphia-trained cabinetmakers, and pottery decorated with splotches, daubs, and streaks. White’s field work has resulted in more than 2,000 records. Taken together, they create a Great Road style, one that is beginning to take its place in American decorative arts.


betsy-white-bioBetsy White, an art historian and a member of the Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, graduated from Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC.



APRIL 28, 2016

America’s First Daughter
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Laura Kamoie
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

AFD final 2In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.


Laura Kamoie HeadshotLaura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction. Her debut historical novel, America’s First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

MARCH 24, 2016

From Mirador To Mayfair: Nancy Lancaster And The Country House Style
2:00 – 4:00 | $10 | Speaker: Susan J. Rawles, PhD
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA

41q1aVMDLNLVirginia-born tastemaker Nancy Lancaster (1897 – 1994) is a widely recognized source of the international design movement known as the British Country House Style. The style’s blending of key forms and materials, which resulted in domestic environments with historicist inflections, recalls Lancaster’s experience of her six-generation family home, Mirador, near Charlottesville. From post-Civil War Virginia to post-World War II England, Mirador to Mayfair examines the inspiration, implementation, and patronage of the Country House Style toward a better understanding of the role of interior decoration in the fashioning of individual and cultural identity.


susan-rawles-bioDr. Susan J. Rawles has been the Assistant Curator of American Decorative Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts since 2008, serving previously as Research Associate for the American department from 1995. She received a PhD in American studies from the College of William and Mary, an MA in the history of art from Rice University, and a BA in economics and government from Smith College. A specialist in American material culture of the colonial and revolutionary periods, she is particularly interested in the socio-historical context of art and has written and lectured on topics ranging from colonial portraiture to period interiors. Part of the 2010 reinstallation team for VMFA’s American art galleries, she co-authored the accompanying publication, American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2010).




Menokin 2015 Speaker Series

This program has been organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is supported, in part, by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.
Menokin is a community partner of the VMFA.


Historic Architecture Talk
Wednesday May 27, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm

Speaker: Calder Loth

Retired Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Calder Loth, will speak about the significance of the architecture and history of Menokin and other 18th Century Northern Neck homes.

Mr. Loth’s professional credentials include: Instructor in Architectural Literacy for the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art • Member of the Virginia Art and Architectural Review Board • Vice President for the Center of Palladian Studies in America • Member of advisory committees for: Kenmore, Stratford Hall, Gunston Hall, University of Virginia, Battersea, Maryland State House

Return to the Flame or Retreat from the Heat:
The New Wheel Order
Wednesday June 24, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm
The New Wheel Order is a restoration and expansion of the notion of function in ceramic art. It involves the consideration of optical warmth as well as optical worth and regards function beyond mere utility. It asks the question, “When does meaning occur,” that is to say the actual experience of art. Does this experience happen in the museum, gallery or the kitchen? There is so much careerism masquerading as education that the salient issues of Craft and Creativity are often elided right out of the conversation. The New Wheel Order is akin to Cezanne’s quest for the truth as he said, “Truth lies not in verisimilitude but in how things are.”

Stephen Glass
Speaker: Stephen Glass

VMFA Resident Potter Steven Glass will discuss these ideas and conduct a power point presentation of contemporary ceramic art.

Steven Glass has taught pottery at VMFA and other institutions since 1982. He has conducted pottery residencies in Great Britain and Korea and is a member of the board of the Cub Creek Pottery Foundation.

The Grand Tour: “Spring Break” for the 18th-Century Man
Wednesday July 29, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm

Speaker: Elizabeth Cruickshanks
Speaker: Elizabeth Cruickshanks

The Grand Tour: “Spring Break” for the 18th-Century Man For most young men, the Grand Tour, a hallmark coming-of-age trip through France and Italy, was a folly, but for others it was a completely different experience. With the ever-popular Neoclassical movement continuing to take hold in Europe, artists like Benjamin West saw the Grand Tour as an opportunity for inspiration. Take a grand tour through the art and culture of this era and see how the classical past came alive again in 18th-century Britain and France. Art Historian Elizabeth Cruickshanks will lead the program.

Elizabeth Cruickshanks earned both an MA in the History of Art & Architecture and a BA in Art History at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Her Master’s work concentrated on the art of 18th-Century Europe. Ms. Cruickshanks worked in the Department of Art & Education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for almost five years, and currently serves as a VMFA Statewide Speaker on the Arts.

Face Value: Portraiture in American Art
Wednesday August 26, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm

Portraiture in American art ranges from folk to classical and from realism to impressionism. Delve into these stylistic variances with a visual exploration of painted portraits of Americans by Americans. Explore works in significant portrait collections across America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Speaker: Margaret Hancock

Margaret Hancock holds her M.Ed from the University of Virginia and her B.A. in Art History from Duke University. She owns and operates Margaret Hancock Studio, curating art exhibitions and educational programming for a variety of institutions. Margaret is the former Director of Programs and Curator for the Virginia Center for Architecture. Her resume also includes the Savannah College of Art and Design, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and an internship with the National Gallery of Art.

Menokin’s Mysterious Designer

Calder Loth, Honorary Menokin Trustee and Vice President of the Center for Palladian Studies in America, published an article in the latest volume of the organization’s journal Palladiana.

The article focuses on a big mystery surrounding Menokin. While it is true that Menokin is one of the best documented 18th-century tidewater homes, there are clues, but no answers, to who is responsible for its design.

Loth systematically identifies Menokin’s unique design features and explores their relationships to contemporary sources such as Batty Langley (1740) and Abraham Swan (1757). It’s a fascinating read.

Click here for a PDF of the article.
Click here for PDF of the article.


Minimester at Menokin – St. Margaret’s Students Pay Us A Visit

Some students from St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock spent an afternoon at Menokin late in February as part of their “minimester” program.

Minimester as described on the SMS website:

Creative inquiry, experiential learning and the study of interdisciplinary topics are all intrinsic to each Minimester course. Every February, faculty teams teach one week courses outside the core subject areas, giving students the opportunity to learn during extended periods of time and with more hands-on experience.

This group’s focus, led by instructor Dale Harder, was to embark on an in-depth exploration of historic places in Virginia. They visited Monticello, Mt. Vernon and Stratford Hall before coming to Menokin.

Though short on time, the students did a little research on one of Menokin’s artifacts. The dictionary pictured below was found on the floor of Menokin in 1965 by then University of Virginia student Calder Loth. The SMS students were unable to find anything definitive, but did learn that there was a Richard H. Lyell (b. 1818 – d. 1901) that is now buried at Calvary Church Cemetery in Richmond County, VA. Perhaps this is the same man from whom the dictionary was purchased?

Here is a picture of the condition of one of the interior rooms at Menokin taken during that 1965 visit. The Southside Bank calendar on the wall is dated 1941. How long had it been since someone had lived in this room? And who was the last person to use the dictionary?