Tag Archives: Northern Neck of Virginia

February 27, 2016 Marked 250th Anniversary of the Leedstown Resolves


Saturday February 27, 2016 was the 250th anniversary of the Leedstown Resolves. Our own, Francis Lightfoot Lee, signed this historic document along with his brothers: Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Ludwell Lee, and William Lee.

 What were these Resolves? They were one of the first public acts against the crown, paving the road to revolution. These Resolves, penned by Frank’s brother, Richard, were in response to the Stamp Act of 1765 and taxation without representation by Parliament.

“As we know it to be the Birthright privilege of every British subject (and of the people of Virginia as being such)… that he cannot be taxed, but by consent of Parliament, in which he is represented by persons chosen by the people, and who themselves pay a part of the tax they impose on others. If, therefore, any person or persons shall attempt, by any action, or proceeding, to deprive this Colony of these fundamental rights, we will immediately regard him or them, as the most dangerous enemy of the community…”

To commemorate the anniversary of these Resolves, the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society co-sponsored an event with Stratford Hall (Frank’s boyhood home) at their Council House. Former Board of Trustee and current chair of the President’s Council for the Menokin Foundation, Steve Walker, spoke eloquently on the history of the Leedstown Resolves and the people who signed this historic document. Frank, who was living in Loudon at the time, was the only representative of his county to sign the Resolves.

 The event also featured guest speakers, descendants of the original Signers, living history interpreters, and more. Friends from around the community came together to commemorate the anniversary of this monumental event that took place in Virginia’s Northern Neck and sparked a revolution.

Moving the Stones – Preconstruction Work Summer 2015

By Guest Blogger  Catherine Emery

(For Part I of this Series, follow this link.)

PART II  After two weeks sorting through stones, tagging them and recording their findings, Menokin’s summer interns were ready to get outside and in the field.

With life-sized print outs of Menokin’s HABS drawings delivered and spread out in the yard, Bethany, Sarah and Chris spent two days with architect Nakita Reed and a contractor moving stones onto the drawings.

It was an evolving process, which is to say it wasn’t quite as straightforward as it seemed on paper. Of course, nothing worth doing ever is. The team had the help of a small front loader and were tasked with placing stones that weigh hundreds of pounds the right direction and within the lines of the drawings. Halfway through the day with many of the pieces in place, it was still hard to visualize how it would all come together.

“I don’t know what I thought it would look like,” said puzzled intern Sarah Rogers, “but I’m not sure this is it.”

By the end of day one, though, there was a clear sense of accomplishment and the hard work had paid off. Entire pieces of each elevation had been laid out in stone, giving everyone a clear view of how useful the endeavor would be.

The life size HABS drawings will benefit future contractors, who will be tasked with putting some of the pieces of the Menokin ruin back together. Additionally, the drawings give meaning and purpose to Menokin’s rock yard. Now, visitors to the site can see where all those stones go and how they fit into the larger scope of work at Menokin.

For Sarah, Bethany and Chris, the four-week internship went by fast. They provided an invaluable service to Menokin and in return all expressed deep gratitude for their time there.

Of her time on site Bethany Emenhiser said, “I learned that things don’t always work out in the field the way they look on paper. I learned how fun and important it is to do field work because you learn to be flexible. Menokin was a great place to learn that.”

The Cat’s Meow

We have always known that Menokin is the cat’s meow. But now there is proof!

Through the generosity of a Menokin Trustee, these replicas of Menokin (in the style of the rehabilitated house), are now available for purchase.


These replicas are produced by Cat’s Meow, and feature a representation of the facade of the Glass House based on the rendering of architect Jorge Silvetti of Machado and Silvetti Associates.

The Menokin Replicas are $25 each plus $5 shipping. Click here to order online.

They are also available at the Menokin Visitor’s Center.

All proceeds from this sale of this collectible will directly benefit the Menokin Foundation.



Ruins, Memory, and The Imagination: Menokin Revealed


An Exhibition of the
Harvard Graduate School of Design Projects
at the Virginia Center for Architecture

In the spring of 2013, architecture professor Jorge Silvetti led twelve Harvard Graduate School of Design students through an exploration of the complex design and interpretive questions surrounding the c. 1769 Menokin site.

Discover the students’ innovative solutions for the evocative crumbling ruins and surrounding landscape at this 500-acre site in Virginia’s Northern Neck.

This exhibit will feature images of the final concept presentations of the students of the spring studio course. Curated by Jorge Silvetti, the show will feature graphics designed by Carmine D’Alessandro and custom exhibit panels designed and produced by Forrest French.

Visitors will be introduced to the exhibition with an overview of The Menokin Project, putting the work of the students into context of the revolutionary thinking that Menokin inspires. It’s easy to understand that inspiration when reading the observations of the students during their time here…

From the presentation of Alex Watchman.
From the presentation of Alex Watchman.
From the presentation of Carmine
From the presentation of Carmine D’Alessandro

Bios of the students and descriptions of the Design Program at Harvard in which they participate will also be highlighted.

The exhibit will run from January 30th until April 27th at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond, VA.

Jones’n for the Joneses

Ever meet someone (or more than one someone, like a family of someones) who you instantly connect with, like a lot and wish you could spend more time with?

That happened here at Menokin yesterday, when the front door opened and in walked the Joneses. Actually, they streamed in, in random dribs and drabs, until they were finally all assembled — Granddad, Mom, Dad and five kids.

The first thing I asked (when a family with five kids visit on a school day) was “Is your school closed for Veteran’s Day?”

“No,” they replied. “We’re home schooled.” Turns out they are from St. George, Utah and are on a road trip.

JonesIt only took me a moment to realize that they were all wearing T-shirts sporting the same logo. Dad designed the logo for the shirts. It took me (embarrassingly enough) a lot longer to figure out that Jones was their last name. But they didn’t hold it against me.

We’re the Jones…Nice to meet you. All 7 of us are going out to find the great things in America; Great People, Great Places, and Finding Great Service Projects. Its has been a blast so far, and we have found more than we planned.

(From the family blog.)

Turns out that Granddad lives in Reedville. But they had heard about Menokin and considered it worthy to be included in their list of Great Places.

Part of their goal is to participate in and provide community service wherever possible. They cheerfully went to work picking up and restacking  brick pavers that have been spread out around the property of the years. Along the way they asked about Menokin and the Lees and Tayloes, and learned about what we’re doing here.

The-Joneses_webI tried to convince them to stay just a little while longer in the Northern Neck, but the road was calling. (I did get an invite from the youngest, asking if I would like to come along.)

I hope that we made as big an impression on them as they did on us. I must say that today, I’m Jones’n for the Jones. Safe travels!




The Menokin Glass House: A Revolutionary Project

Once the home of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lightfoot Lee, now the evocative crumbling ruins of an 18th century mansion in Virginia’s Northern Neck, Menokin aspires to a future like no other among American Revolutionary sites and conservation efforts.

Menokin is a multi-faceted place, rich in heritage and stories. The site spans 500 acres of land in close proximity to Washington, DC and other major cities and historic sites. At its center is the revolutionary rehabilitation of the Menokin house.

Remaining historical elements and some extracted structural materials from the house will be reinstalled, along with the beautiful woodwork that was removed before the house collapsed in the 1960s. The missing exterior walls, roof, and floors will be recreated in glass and steel to protect the remaining historic fabric, to restore volume and space, and to provide exhibit areas.

Architect Jorge Silvetti and his internationally known firm of Machado and Silvetti Associates leads an interdisciplinary team that has developed our plan. The Glass Project serves as the ultimate case-study in architectural innovation and moves beyond just breaking the mold of the traditional historic house museum. The real potential of Menokin lies in the opportunity to approach its preservation and interpretation in a truly innovative and revolutionary way, embodying the spirit of the place and Francis Lightfoot Lee himself.

Menokin Model – Progress Report (Week 4)

Production of this model was made possible by a generous grant from Union First Market Bank.

Project Progress Reports from:
Jayne Kang | Project Manager, Senior Designer | Machado and Silvetti Associates, LLC


Week 4 –07/15/13-07/19/13
Model production:
– Final site model production [routed on the CNC milling machine]
– Laser cut all final parts of the assembly [i.e. rainscreen, armature for 1/16” models]
– Run lighting tests with the assembled 3/16” model
– Produce a test for the plaque that will be placed on the final model
– Run final tests for the liner’s gradient
– Preliminary fit-out of the entire assembly




Preliminary lighting test on overall assembly to calibrate the liner’s opacity, brightness and the overall ambiance.
Preliminary lighting test on overall assembly to calibrate the liner’s opacity, brightness and the overall ambiance.

The Dance of the Dung Beetle

IMG_4058Really, I thought these guys only lived in Africa. But in all truth, I have never really done much research on dung beetles, or how they carry out their business.

However, while taking a walk recently, this rather large object moving across my path caught my eye, so I moved closer to investigate. And what I saw was this massive dinosaur-sized beetle, rolling what looked to be a ball of poop. Backwards.

I immediately grabbed my phone to record what I was sure was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon in the Northern Neck.

Not knowing what it was exactly, I started with dung beetle because of the whole poop ball aspect of the situation.


So I did a little reading and found an hilarious video about dung beetles on You Tube, which explained a lot of what my dung beetle was up to. So in case you have never seen a dung beetle in action, check out my video. And be sure to watch the You Tube video too, because in spite its lighthearted presentation, there’s a lot of good info in there, too.

Plan. Point. Click. Shoot. – Photography Workshop at Menokin

On Saturday afternoon, members of the Rappahannock Art League’s Photography Group gathered at Menokin for an enriching afternoon of philosophy and photography.

Hullie Moore – photographer, thinker, teacher, Menokin Trustee and all-around-great guy – shared his time and expertise with the group. I was unfortunately unable to attend, but I would like to share the email I received from Micki Clay, the Photography Group’s Coordinator and a fabulous photographer in her own rite.

Here is a picture I took of Hullie last year when he and his camera were just beginning their love affair with Menokin.
Here is a picture I took of Hullie last year when he and his camera were just beginning their love affair with Menokin.

We had a marvelous afternoon with Hullie at Menokin yesterday. He packed more truly useful information into his 25-minute talk than any photography presentation I’ve ever seen, and he did it in a witty, warm, and engaging manner. He put us at ease instantly.

He worked with each one of us…encouraging us to use our tripods and sharing his with those who hadn’t brought theirs, pointing out interesting subjects and perspectives, viewing our shots and suggesting composition and setting tweaks to get it just so, gently prodding us to stick with it, so the day would yield one or two really good images instead of a bunch of throwaway snapshots.

I am just starting to put a lot more thought and planning into my photography. It’s a little daunting after years of snapping away, hoping that so much quantity would yield a few quality keepers. But, as Hullie said yesterday, you actually make your own luck, by scouting your subject and figuring out when and how to shoot it before you even pick up your camera. Doing just that with Hullie at Menokin yesterday was a transformative experience.

Thank you again for giving us this exceptional experience,


If you’re photography group is interested in organizing a workshop at Menokin, contact me at lrennolds@menokin.org.