An American Silence: Walker Evans and Edward Hopper – documentation of common people their lives and places
4:00 – 6:00 | $10 | Speaker: Jeffrey Allison
Menokin Visitors Center | 4037 Menokin Road | Warsaw, VA
The photographer Walker Evans and painter Edward Hopper were part of the generation of American artists who tore themselves away from European ideals at the start of the 20th century. Join Jeffrey Allison as he explores these artists who celebrated America without filter focusing on common people in common lives and places. Within those scenes lie a powerful silence in which directness creates a visual anxiety as we wonder what has just happened and what will happen next.
Geology of Menokin and the Formation of the Chesapeake Bay
Speaker: Christopher “Chuck” Bailey, College of William & Mary
4:00 – 6:00 | $10
Curiosity about the origins of the iron-infused sandstone of which Menokin is built has led Dr. Bailey on a deeper exploration of the geologic history of the Northern Neck and how it relates to the formation of the Chesapeake Bay.
Mapping the Indigenous Cultural Landscape
Speaker: Scott Strickland, St. Mary’s College, MD
4:00 – 6:00 | $10
The project was undertaken as an initiative of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay office to identify and represent the Rappahannock Indigenous Cultural Landscape between Port Royal/Port Conway and Urbanna. It was administered by the Chesapeake Conservancy and the fieldwork undertaken and report prepared by St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
The Archaeology of Menokin
Speaker: David Brown, Fairfield Foundation
4:00 – 6:00 | $10
Dr. David Brown and his colleague, Thane Harpole, have been the archaeologists of record at Menokin for over a decade. This session will incorporate an outdoor “Adventures in Preservation” program as well as an indepth look into the past, present and future archaeology at Menokin.
The American Revolution
11:45 – 1:45 | $25*
*This lecture will take place at Ingleside Winery in Westmoreland County. Lunch is available by reservation and is included in the cost of the ticket.
Trees Up Close: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets
of Everyday Trees*
Speaker: Nancy Ross Hugo
4:00 – 6:00 | $15
Nancy Ross Hugo describes the joy of discovering unfamiliar features of familiar trees and how carefully observing seeds, catkins, flowers, resting buds, emerging leaves, and other small phenomena of ordinary backyard and roadside trees can provide insight into tree biology and reveal a whole new universe of tree beauty. She also shares what decades planting and observing trees has taught her about which trees make the best landscape investments and the importance of planting long-lived, legacy trees.
*This lecture will take place off-site due to the Smithsonian WaterWays Exhibit in the Menokin Visitor’s Center. Location TBD. A tree walk at Menokin will take place at the conclusion of the lecture.
Menokin Sleepover Conference
Speakers: Frank Vagnone (One Night Stand) and Joseph McGill (The Slave Dwelling Project)
These two innovative and well-known historians and speakers will converge at Menokin for an extraordinary weekend of historical reflection, discourse and lessons on new ways to explore and experience historic places and the people who inhabited them.
More details about related programming will be shared as plans are solidified.
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 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.
This Saturday, November 14th, is the Grand Opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the new access road to Cat Point Creek! We are so excited to provide this new recreational opportunity here in Richmond County.
Join the Menokin Foundation for the grand opening of the road from 11AM to 1PM on Saturday. RSVP to the Menokin Foundation: 804-333-1776 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know if you plan to bring your kayak or canoe and join in the inaugural launch from the Menokin shore!
Here is a sneak peak of what to expect along the new trail…
Walk or drive down the trail…
…and enjoy the wildlife and plants along the way.
The parking area provides parking for four vehicles, with one spot reserved for handicapped visitors.
A short walk from the parking area to the water.
View of Menokin Bay from the Menokin kayak launch.
The new access road and canoe launch at Menokin has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the National Park Service – Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. The Menokin launch site now includes parking and a turnaround, as well as an improved soft landing for canoes and kayaks into the creek. New interpretive signage for the trail and will help to raise visibility for this important natural resource along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
Thank you to the National Park Service and to our local community partners who have helped fund this project: Wood Preservers, the Beirne Carter Foundation, Chesapeake Conservancy, Patrick F. Noonan, the National Trust for Historic Places, the Campbell Foundation, and others. We are still looking for donations to help complete our match for this grant. Contact Christina Markish for more information and to pledge your support: 804-333-1776 or email@example.com.
Kevin Goff, the new Director of the River Program at St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, VA, has created this co-curricular activity group called SSOAK:Science, Service, and Outdoor Adventure Krew.
This particular group goes out with SMS faculty Cupper Dickinson and Kevin on weekday afternoons, and will soon be launching larger scale SSOAK activities on weekends for other students who want to participate.
October 12th was the second time they have visited Menokin since our new road was completed. One of the girls said that “Menokin was her favorite of all the places we’ve been kayaking the past 5 weeks”.
Menokin was visited last May by Kurt Repanshek of the National Parks Traveler, Suzanne Copping of the National Park Service and Richard Moncure of Friends of the Rappahannock.
Their mission – paddle along Cat Point Creek and Menokin Bay from Menokin Landing and hopefully find the experience worthy of including in the 2015 Essential Guide to Paddling The Parks.
Accompanied by Alice French, Menokin’s Intrepid Education and Outreach Coordinator and Bri Basile, summer intern, they determined that it is worthy and they have included a beautiful article about our site and our project in this year’s publication.
Improvements on Menokin’s road, thanks to a generous grant from the National Parks Service Chesapeake Gateways Program, to Cat Point Creek will begin in March and hopefully will be ready in time for prime paddling.
The Menokin Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received $70,000 in grant money from the NPS to initiate planning and design for two public access points on Cat Point Creek at Menokin.
“We are excited to be able to begin the process of making Cat Point Creek more accessible to the public,” says Sarah Pope, Executive Director at Menokin, “And hope that the research performed during this planning phase will also help us to better understand the intricate story of the Menokin landscape.”
The National Park Service (NPS) Chesapeake Bay Office announced on September 5, 2012 that the NPS is providing financial assistance to 21 partners and 24 projects with a combined financial commitment of $1,363,039. These projects with 21 partners in fiscal year 2012 address education, youth employment and stewardship programs, and public access and trail development in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Each project is leveraged through additional means such as matching funds, in-kind services, and volunteer hours.
In collaboration with many partners, the National Park Service works to expand public access to the Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers, build visitor experiences along two national historic trails, develop teacher resources in line with state standards, and expand service and employment opportunities for youth. “Through partner engagement and participation, each of these projects has a positive impact in local communities,” said NPS Superintendent John Maounis. “Whether teaching the history of these places, introducing young people to possible career paths, or providing a new place to get to the water, these are investments in quality of life.”
The Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service administers the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network of partner sites, and also manages two of the nation’s nineteen national historic trails. Both trails are comprised of land and water routes accessible through partner sites, are in active stages of development, and offer opportunities for educators and students that are both virtual and place-based. Educational programming, training in stewardship and outdoor recreation skills, and youth employment opportunities all contribute to trail development.
Trail development and youth engagement projects also advance public access goals set through the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the federal response to President Obama’s Executive Order 13508. The strategy and subsequent draft public access plan call for the addition of 300 new sites where citizens can have a waterside experience, whether hiking, paddling, enjoying a picnic, or fishing.