Dr. Duane Sanders, River Program Coordinator, Biology Instructor
Students from St. Margaret’s School Outdoor Adventure program spent three afternoons in May kayaking on Cat Point Creek at the Menokin Plantation. Students learned about wildlife supported by this ecosystem and how the system can change over time. They also relaxed and had some fun!
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.
May is Preservation Month!
Mathilde and Leslie are happy to be at the workshop!
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.
Time to make the pegs.
Juliana gives it a go, and is, of course, a natural.
Photo opp pause. The hats are sold out, but a new order has been placed.
60 down. 20 to go.
Handmade mallet in progress.
Put Tab A (aka “Tenon”)
into Slot B, (aka. “mortise”)
Floor is in place.
The Log Dog (wrought iron “staple”) bites into the wood of the tree and sawhorse, enabling Craig to turn this log…
This structure will be 15ft x 25ft. The enclosed wall surfaces will be transparent and developed in the future for educational interpretation. Participants are spending the week learning wood working and joinery techniques that were used in the 18th century.
Based on information derived from archaeological excavations, we will be recreating the framework of a dwelling that would have been lived in by Menokin’s field slaves.
DAY ONE: The Work Begins
A view of the slave quarters site from the Visitor’s Center.
Craig Jacobs, proprietor of Salvagewrights Ltd. is leading the workshop.
In the interest of time, large cuts are started with the use of power tools.
The detailed joinery work is done by hand.
Hammers and chisels are used to gouge out the fittings.
Measure twice. Cut once.
Tools of the trade
Lots of lumber. Smells wonderful at the work site.
MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR MIND
THE MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE serves as a physical metaphor to foster discourse and assist people in forming and participating in conversations about slavery as it relates to the Menokin site, the history of America and current events.
MEMORIA is a Latin term, and can be translated as “memory.” Memoria was the discipline of recalling the arguments of a discourse in classical rhetoric. Creating outline structures of the major arguments of a discourse would also aid memory.
KAIROS dictates that what is said must be said at the right time. In addition to timeliness, kairos considers appropriateness. The term also implies being knowledgeable of and involved in the environment where the situation is taking place in order to benefit fully from seizing the opportune moment.
True to our unique vision, we are not creating a reproduction of a slave dwelling, but instead a constructed form that will generate dialog about our past, with the flexibility to garner new knowledge, awareness and understanding. Once completed, this structure will be used as an educational classroom, and will serve as the centerpiece in telling the African American story – both past and present – in Richmond County, Virginia and beyond.
By Alice French | Education and Outreach Coordinator
Spring has finally come and Westmoreland and Essex County 6th graders spent the day at Menokin learning about the Rappahannock River Valley Watershed.
The students from Mrs. Beale’s science classes at Montross Middle School (pictured here) spent their chilly weathered day with several activities including learning how to paddle a canoe, water testing, a special Hard Hat Tour, learning about the daffodils which grow at Menokin, painting with soil and learning about mapping. The students kept warm by keeping active.
The following week, Mrs. Layne’s classes from Essex Intermediate visited on a day with wild changes in the weather! One sure way to get to know your environment is to spend a field day outdoors in the Spring! The unexpected rain changed our morning activities and the students stayed indoors and learned about the making of buildings and the teamwork involved while they got to create some of their own architectural structures. They also got to develop their very own 100 acres of land and learn how what we build effects our watershed. Then with a break in the clouds, we went outdoors for canoe and house tour activities, until the strong gusting spring winds brought everyone back off the water to conclude the day.
This program is part of a partnership with multiple environmental educators. Menokin joined Friends of the Rappahannock and 4H to give these students a fun and educational field day. “A River Runs Through Us” is part of a year long program that allows students to achieve the Virginia mandate of each child having a meaningful watershed experience and teach kids how to continue to be stewards of their waterways.
BY: Alice French | Menokin Education and Outreach Coordinator
Hi! Be sure to attend this traveling exhibit at Menokin until March 31st. It’s called the African American Mosaic. Included in the exhibit are 11 images of art by African Americans from 1850 to present.
We also have a selfie wall with props, to create a setting similar to a Kehinde Wiley portrait, which we would love you to use and share on social media (just use tag #VFMAatMenokin). Wiley is the portrait artist who just completed Barack Obama’s presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.
We also have information on Amy Sherald, an African American woman (seeing as it is now Women’s History Month) who painted Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.
This is a great opportunity to expose yourself to world class artwork close to home, and see part of the VMFA’s great collection, which our Statewide Community Partnership allows us to bring to the Northern Neck.
At Menokin it is our goal to continue to share our resources with our community. It’s so important to bring relevant art and history to rural areas like ours.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. But it’s only here until the end of March, so don’t wait too long!
The history of Madeira is “a bit” murky and “a lot” thought provoking. Our personal fondness and affiliation with the drink stems from the ample supply of Madeira found in the inventory of Frank Lee after his death.
(SIDE THOUGHT: Wouldn’t it be FUN to have a Madeira tasting party in the wine cellar at Menokin? Email us if you’re interested. )
We have touched on the topic once before, with this interview with Julia Pearson and Bartholomew Broadbent about the history of Madeira and how it went from dreadful to delicious through a happy shipping misadventure.
But up until now, we haven’t given the Malmsey the credit it deserves in the formation of a more perfect union. In a recent post on Atlas Obscura, writer Daniel Crown explores the Colonial obsession with Madeira in an article titled How a Thirst for Portuguese Wine Fueled the American Revolution. It’s a good read chock full of quirky facts and figures. Here are a few of my favorites:
On August 8, 1775, two months after taking charge of his army, George Washington procured a large cask of the wine, as well as empty bottles, corks, and other paraphernalia. Over the next six months, he purchased hundreds of additional bottles and, eventually, an entire “pipe” (a term derived from the Portuguese word for barrel, “pipa”). A pipe of madeira held enough wine to fill 700 bottles, and a cask roughly the same. Washington, then, in preparation for war, ordered at least 1,900 bottles worth of the wine to be shared among his closest aides and confidants. (Party on, George!)
In 1766, John Hancock celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act by setting two pipes of madeira out in front of his house for public consumption. (Party on, large signature guy!)
In 1774, John Adams reported to his wife, Abigail, that after tedious days of contentious debate, delegates to the First Continental Congress would sit for hours “drinking Madeira, Claret, and Burgundy.” (Party on, Founding Fathers!)
(ANOTHER SIDE THOUGHT: We would love to have a signature Menokin Madeira created for us. If you are, or know, an adventurous winemaker, let’s chat. You know our email address.)