We’d like to thank Inigo Howlett, the Northern Neck correspondent for Community Idea Station WCVE for paying a visit to Menokin to learn more our Ghost Structure Workshop that took place in May.
His news report aired on May 29th in the Richmond and Northern Neck areas. If you heard the story, or even if you didn’t, do one or all of these things:
- Listen to it now online.
- Search “Ghost Structure” on the blog to find related stories and to see more photos.
- Visit our website to learn more about the Menokin Glass House Project and the important, innovative work taking place here.
- Come for a visit, take part in a program, or go for a paddle on Cat Point Creek.
If you like what you see, hear, experience, learn…make a donation!
Here are some pictures of the completed, glowing Ghost Structure on the Menokin landscape.
How sad is it that the crew can build an entire structure faster than I can blog about it and post pictures? Very sad.
DAY 3 – Wednesday
The day was made more interesting by the arrival of two groups of horticulture and carpentry students from the Northern Neck Technical Center. Most of the students had never been to Menokin before. I was so pleased to hear many of them say that they “sure didn’t expect it to be like this!”
In case you didn’t know, May is Preservation Month. The “This Place Matters” campaign was started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation many years ago to bring attention to the importance of historic buildings to local communities as well as visitors and enthusiasts.
DAY 4 – Thursday
Raise the Roof takes on a whole new meaning when you see it happening. All the chiseling, measuring, staging and peg making were put to the test with the assembly of the structural timbers and the crown of roof rafters. The beautiful bones of the building are a perfect addition to this vast, cultural landscape.
The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos – Day Two
Day One ended with peg manufacturing in full swing (need 80 total), the grade beams of the structure assembled and the chiseling of the mortise and tenon joints well underway.
By lunchtime on Day Two, the floorboards were cut and laid. Preparations for the framing of the walls began in anticipation of the vertical beam raising to take place on Day Three. And let’s not forget the fashion show of the Fab Four students voguing their Menokin hats.
Take a virtual stroll through the pictures and imagine the scent of fresh-cut pine perfuming the air; hear the scrape of draw blades shaping pegs; feel the delicious spring combination of warm sun and cool breeze on your skin and get floored by the progress being made on our newest interpretive tool at Menokin.
The Menokin Foundation Board President Hullihen Moore is pleased to announce that Samuel McKelvey of Richmond, Virginia, has been chosen to lead Menokin as Executive Director. McKelvey, selected after a comprehensive national search, will begin his appointment on October 24, 2016.
Moore said that McKelvey is particularly well suited to complete Menokin’s innovative Glass House Project and to introduce new programming to the site. “Sam brings to the table an excellent mix of experience, leadership, initiative and enthusiasm,” Moore said; “he has a track record of bringing in diverse and younger audiences and he has shown himself to be a leader in creating new programs and events to engage the public in broad and meaningful ways.”
McKelvey currently serves as Site Manager for Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park, an 1860 living history farm site and museum. During his tenure at Meadow Farm, McKelvey has significantly updated the site’s programs and re-interpreted a number of tours, bringing in new audiences, growing attendance, and making the site relevant to a new generation of students, families, and tourists.
McKelvey also serves as a Recreation Program Coordinator for the 150-acre site, which rests under the purview of Henrico County’s Division of Recreation and Parks. He has managed and developed a wide range of outdoor opportunities and experiences for the park’s thousands of annual visitors, including fishing, hiking and nature trails, picnicking, play areas, seasonal festivals and, most recently, adding more livestock on the farm.
McKelvey is an avid champion of community storytelling and bringing history to life. In 2014, he led the planning and execution of a 3-day re-enactment of the Battle of New Market Heights which brought 5,000 people to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle in which African-American soldiers from the “U.S. Colored Troops” won largely on their own their first significant battle close to the Confederate fortifications of Richmond.
McKelvey received his BA in History and Geography from James Madison University and his MA in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. He currently chairs the Historic Preservation Function Group for Henrico County Recreation and Parks and he has co-chaired or lead numerous other planning committees, including the Henrico Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee.
He believes Menokin offers the region and the country an extraordinary opportunity. “The Menokin Foundation has laid the groundwork for a totally new approach to engaging people with ideas and themes in American history,” McKelvey said. “The Glass House Project is like nothing else in historic preservation today – it encourages us to think in new and different ways. I am looking forward to working with the board, staff, volunteers, and local community to accomplish the Foundation’s goals. My wife April and I look forward to actively participating in the Northern Neck community.”
McKelvey succeeds Sarah Dillard Pope, Executive Director from 2005 until December 2015, when she became Dean of College Advancement at Rappahannock Community College. Leslie Rennolds has served ably as Interim Director since January 2016.
The search committee, co-chaired by Penelope Saffer and Ro King, included trustees and stakeholders: Moore, Dudley Percy Olsson, Candy Carden, Nancy Raybin, and past Board President W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr.
For the nationwide search, the Menokin Foundation retained Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont of Museum Search & Reference, an executive search firm in Manchester, NH, and Boston, MA.
ABOUT THE MENOKIN FOUNDATION
The Menokin Foundation is a 500-acre National Historic Landmark site in the Northern Neck of Virginia that includes the collapsed home of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife Rebecca Tayloe. In 2015, the Menokin Foundation launched a multi-year, $7-million capital campaign to construct a groundbreaking, 21st-century glass structure that will preserve, protect and interpret the original house without reconstructing its 18th-century interior. The grounds and kayak boat launch are open daily 7 am to 7 pm and the Visitors Center is open Wednesday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.menokin.org or call 804-333-1776.
Have you watched this video? It doesn’t take long. Saving Menokin is important. This video tells you why. (Here’s a hint: there’s something in it for all of us.)
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.
BY: ALICE FRENCH
On June 13th, Mrs. Smith’s 11th Grade Advanced Placement History class from Richmond County High School visited Menokin as guinea pigs to test out a new tour style being developed here: a Smashing Glass Tour!
The students participated in a dynamic tour which integrated the use of smart phone technology, social media, and physical activity. They learned about Francis Lightfoot Lee and the history of Menokin, architecture and building trades.
For an activity, we practiced some of the things we discussed about architecture by first working in teams to build structures with blocks. And then…oh yes, body building- making architectural forms out of humans.
Of course, after all the fun, we still had time to take a selfie with Frank.
The Menokin Visitor’s Center has new Hours of Operation, which now include scheduled times for guided tours.
Wed | Thurs | Fri: 10 am – 4 pm
Sat: May – September: 12 pm – 4 pm
Sun | Mon | Tues
PAID TOUR HOURS
Wed: 11 am and 2 pm
Thurs: 2 pm and 6 pm
Fri: 11 am and 2 pm
(Paid tours available by appointment; some restrictions apply.)
Email Alice to schedule a special Smashing Glass Tour.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone 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.
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.”
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.