The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it’s grown to 26 exciting categories. As in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.
2016 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt > On the Boards: The Menokin Project
Central to a comprehensive master plan for a 500-acre historic Virginian tobacco plantation, the Menokin Project seeks to offer a new way to present and celebrate the complex history of the region through its designs to preserve the 1769 house.Built by a signer of the Declaration of Independence and designated a National Historic Landmark, the ruins of the house are stabilized and preserved using glass to highlight the history’s wear and tear. By delicately marrying old with new, the project seeks to reinterpret the house, while allowing researchers, archaeologists, and visitors to gain a unique understanding of the irreplaceable portions of the site, its ancillary buildings, and the landscape.
Glass Engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
Preservation Technologist John Fidler Preservation Technology
Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to wake up and deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history.
The Menokin Foundation is pleased to announce that Joseph McGill will be coming to Menokin on September 22, 2017.
Education Coordinator, Alice French, has organized a Sleepover Conference, which will also include Frank Vagnone, international thought leader in innovative and entrepreneurial non-profit management and his blog series, One Night Stand.
Make sure to follow us for details of the Sleepover Conference as programming and events are developed.
In the meantime, read about Joseph McGill’s visit to Belle Grove Plantation on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s blog.
Programs such as the Sleepover Conference are made possible, in part, by the56 Signers Societyof Menokin.
My name is Mariaelena DiBenigno, and I am an American Studies Ph.D. candidate at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
My research focuses primarily on how enslavement manifests at public history sites in Virginia’s Tidewater and Northern Neck regions. I study how these histories emerge on the museum landscape in both material and narrative form. Often, these histories involve communities still overlooked by public and academic history.
In February 2016, I learned of an opportunity to research enslaved families at Menokin. I had long appreciated Menokin’s interdisciplinary focus and its insistence on telling diverse, multilayered narratives. It is a site committed to collaboration and community.
During my initial Menokin visit, I learned about the Gordon family and their ties to the local landscape. Daniel Gordon, whose biography I was asked to trace, was the grandfather of Evelyn Taylor Parker and Juanita Taylor Wells; these two sisters had shared their story during an oral history outreach program hosted by Menokin. According to Evelyn and Juanita, their great-grandparents, Alexander and Nellie Gordon, may have been enslaved at Menokin along with their son, Daniel. Their family had compiled a family
Gordon Family Cookbook: Page 1
Gordon Family Cookbook: Page 2
Gordon Family Cookbook: Page 3
Gordon Family Cookbook: Page 4
cookbook that contained an extensive genealogy and family history. I also had access to several primary and secondary documents that, coupled with Evelyn and Juanita’s interview and family cookbook, provided substantial assistance for my research into the Gordon family’s connection with Menokin’s nineteenth-century past. Throughout this spring and summer, I worked with genealogists, historians and family members, and I learned far more than I ever expected about local history projects and genealogical research techniques. I also thought long and hard about the implications of interpretation at historic sites and who has a role in the decision-making process.
Currently, I am exploring Daniel’s parents, Alexander and Nellie, in order to concretely tie Daniel to the Menokin property. So far, I have discovered much about Daniel and his wife Maria. They owned extensive property in Richmond County, and they were involved in local religious and social life. However, I have yet to definitively link Evelyn and Juanita’s Daniel Gordon to the Daniel Gordon found in Menokin’s inventories. There is an age discrepancy between the Daniels, but this does not mean the families are not linked to Menokin’s landscape. My work will now track the earlier generations to find a common ancestor who might link the two family lines. I have more censuses to transcribe, birth and death certificates to analyze, circuit court records to explore, and church archives to examine.
There is also the fascinating angle of DNA testing among Gordon family descendants. Overall, this is a project that requires diligence, close reading, and perseverance. It is a necessary endeavor. The Gordon family’s relationship to Menokin deserves focused attention and it is an honor to conduct such research.
Maria also serves on Menokin’s African American Advisory Work Group (AAAWG).
Westmoreland County students spent the day at Menokin participating in the TOTS (Think Outside The Sink) education program. They learned about watersheds and the relationships between people, the landscape and the watershed. The students also learned about the natural elements that Menokin is made of – wood, stone, clay (brick) and shell (lime mortar). The lesson culminated in painting with dirt, which was a BIG HIT!
Thanks for coming!
The Menokin Foundation and Friends of the Rappahannock recently received a grant of $2,500 from Dominion as part of their Energizing Communities initiative. This grant will go towards improving the experience for school groups and visitors to Menokin through the addition of benches and picnic tables and grounds maintenance. On Tuesday, October 25th, the Dominion team will be on site at Menokin:
building 4 new picnic tables;
building 6 new benches;
re-roofing a shed in need by the Menokin house; and
cleaning up a picnic shelter for visitors to enjoy
In addition to the support from Friends of the Rappahannock and Dominion to make this community project possible, we are grateful for the support of Wood Preservers who will be donating supplies towards the project. Please visit Menokin on October 25th to see this project and community support in action! Hike the trails, enjoy a picnic outdoors, and call ahead to the Menokin Visitor’s Center to schedule a hard hat tour of the house while you’re here!
Energizing Communities is a grassroots effort driven by Dominion volunteers across the many states and communities served by Dominion. Each year, hundreds of employee volunteers put their talent, time and efforts into improving their home towns in many different ways during a fall project blitz. Local employee volunteer councils work with parks, zoos, schools, shelters and other organizations to choose projects.
We can’t wait to share with you these improvements taking place to make your experience at Menokin more enjoyable!
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.