We have your day planned for you on Thursday, May 18th. Archaeology and stabilization work on the SE corner of the house will resume, and a Hard Hat Tour will start at 2:00.
Hang around after your tour for the Menokin Speaker Series from 4:00 to 6:00 in the Visitor’s Center. Scott Strickland will be speaking on the Indigenous Cultural Landscape survey that was completed in 2016.
After the lecture, head on over to Relish in Warsaw for dinner and a Glass House Special cocktail. Relish will donate $5 to Menokin for every one sold.
The Menokin Foundation is here to make your dream of wearing a hard hat and getting up-close and personal with historic preservation come true…
Join us on Saturday, October 15th from 1:00 to 4:00 for a birthday celebration in honor of Francis Lightfoot Lee’s 282nd birthday! (And he doesn’t look a day over 178.) Tickets are $25 (children ages 6 and under are free) and are available for purchase online at Menokin.org/Events.
Your $25 ticket includes:
A hard hat tour of the current stabilization and construction at the Menokin house and the opportunity to meet the preservation team
One “Frank”furter and one tasting ticket for wine from two local vineyards: Caret Cellars and Vault Field Vineyards (additional food available for purchase; Valid ID required for wine tasting ticket; Non-alcoholic beverages also available).
The celebration features:
A kissing booth with Elliott the weiner dog
Tastings and bottled wines for sale from local vineyards
Menokin hard hat tour t-shirts for sale
Make sure to enjoy:
Flat Frank selfies (Move over, Stanley. We have a Signer!)
A hike to Cat Point Creek (Bring your canoe or kayak and go for a paddle)
Please join us for this opportunity to interact with history and preservation in a unique and fashionable way! For more information, call us at (804) 333-1776 or visit Menokin.org/Events.
We’re looking forward to seeing you October 15th at Menokin!
Stephen surmounted the vast store of raw video and audio footage at Menokin and created a wonderful collection of video shorts covering topics from Oral Histories to Glass Project Team interviews. Not only did he do what the staff has never had time to accomplish, he did it very well!
Menokin Foundation Internship
As a student of early American history, the opportunity to work on the house of a signer of the Declaration of Independence was exciting – even if most of that work would be done remotely. Fortunately, it has proven to be an educational experience despite the distance. From documenting artifacts to video editing, my work with the Menokin Foundation this summer has provided me with new and practical experiences in historical preservation, archaeology, and digital history.
Before I started work for Menokin at the end of June, Alice French, the outreach and education coordinator, shared a number of readings from the Center for Digital Storytelling. The readings helped to clarify their expectations. I had not done any video creation or any work for a historical foundation. The Digital Storytelling Cookbook from CDS was a useful guide for the purposes and processes for digital storytelling. Much of the text is focused on telling personal stories, but the focus on using objects in videos, finding important moments, and keeping the audience’s attention were directly applicable to the work I would be doing. It also had step-by-step directions for creating storyboards, writing scripts, and using particular video editing software. Alice also shared an article from Edutopia: “How to Use Digital Storytelling in your Classroom” by Jennifer New. As a teacher, I was particularly interested in this article as it applied to both my internship work for Menokin and my full-time teaching. In her article, New gives a number of good tips for creating videos for educational purposes and encouraging students to create their own videos. The readings gave me a frame of reference when beginning the video editing work for the summer.
The main purpose of my internship is to help the Menokin Foundation produce digital history content for their website and museum. The content will be use to demonstrate the progress being made in restoring the site and highlight the many activities and opportunities available through the foundation. To start, it was encouraged that I practice my video editing skills by creating a promotional video for their annual summer camp. There were a number of pictures and video clips from the previous year’s camp, and I was use them to highlight the activities children would participate in this year. It took a couple days to create the final video, mostly because I was still learning to use the WeVideo software that Menokin is using. The process involved sorting through dozens of photos to find appropriate ones for use, editing down video clips, creating a storyboard, then editing it all together into a single video with captions and a musical track. Since that first one, I have become much more adept at creating short video montages of what is happening at Menokin. I have created a couple of videos on 18th century carpentry practices and techniques using recordings of classes Menokin has provided. I also edited a number of recordings of archeologists examining artifacts into short clips that will be used in longer compilation videos.
Menokin also wanted transcriptions of a variety of audio and video files in their database – transcriptions which I later found very useful when making compilation videos. Some of the more straightforward videos, such as the carpentry lessons, were fairly easy to transcribe. There were also interviews with people who had family connections to Menokin, and these were much more difficult. The interviews, which were audio only, were very informal; they were more similar to conversations than the lectures I had already transcribed. I found it challenging to keep track of who was talking and what they were saying. I wanted to record as much accuracy as possible, since the transcriptions would be used by the Foundation in other projects after I had left. The transcriptions were time consuming, but also very interesting. One interview was done when a visitor to Menokin shared that their great-uncle once owned the house, and she would visit the site as a child in the 1930’s. Another, much longer, interview was with two sisters in their 90’s who may have been descended from slaves who worked at Menokin. They had a great deal to share about growing up in the Northern Neck throughout the 20th century. The interviews told a lot about the history of Menokin and the surrounding area. Once I had the transcriptions, it became very easy to find some of the best quotes to use in videos promoting the history of Menokin.
On my first trip down to Menokin since I began the internship work, the was to gather recordings and pictures of the Archaeologists at work on the site and collect older pictures off the Menokin server that were too large to send by e-mail. It was also an opportunity to get to know more of the staff at Menokin and experience their day-to-day work.
The most fascinating part of the trip was getting to watch and interview the archaeologists. I do not have any experience with archaeology, but I could tell that they were experts who loved what they did. The day I was down there, a small group of four contracted archaeologists were carefully sifting through the rubble of a collapsed corner of the house. They were both cleaning the site for reconstruction, and looking for artifacts. The lead archaeologist, Chris, was very personable and allowed me to interview him about his work. He explained the process of sifting through dirt to find artifacts, described his history with the site, and showed me the glass bottles, buttons, and nails that they were preparing for cleaning and cataloging. I also interviewed Hank Handler with Oak Grove Construction, who has been doing reconstruction planning and work for Menokin for several years. He was very excited to discuss the techniques being used to stabilize the structure at Menokin – techniques pioneered by the English Heritage Society that were just being introduced to the US. As much as I wanted to, I was not dressed to jump in the rubble and join them (honestly, it did seem exciting), but I was able to get some great pictures and audio recordings to use in promotional and educational videos for Menokin.
The rest of the day was a chance to familiarize myself with the practical matters of a historical institution like Menokin. The staff is small, and they seem to work together on both day-to-day and long-term tasks. This particular day, they were hosting a genealogy course for the local community college; I was happy to help out when I was not searching their server for pictures and files. I also met with the acting director, Leslie Rennolds, to discuss my work and upcoming projects. The visit was a great opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the site and gather material for future videos.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work at Menokin. The experience so far has been incredibly educational. As I work into the second half of the summer, I plan to use the techniques and information I have gathered to create more digital content for the foundation. Right now, I am planning videos about the archaeology and stabilization work I witnessed Monday. There are also more recordings and material from past events at Menokin to examine and turn into media that can be presented to the public – connecting the public to the history. I am excited to continue the work.
Lambert, Joe. The Digital Storytelling Cookbook. Berkeley: The Center for Digital Storytelling, 2010.
We have talked and talked about the amazing stabilization and preconstruction work that has been taking place at Menokin.
But as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The photography of the completed Northwest Corner reconstruction took my breath away. This before and after photo from 2015 shows the remarkable accomplishments of our preservation effort.
I hope you also feel the excitement and pride that I feel when I see this sneak preview of Menokin in her glory days.
If you’d like to help with our efforts, please consider making a donation.
Working in less than ideal conditions this week, these Menokin Project Team members have spent the last four days outside in the cold and wind (note the attractive head wear) to add some urgently needed bracing to the remaining walls of Menokin’s office dependency..
In addition, the metric survey of the entire structure, required by the architects and engineers on the project, is underway, as well as updating the evaluations on the conditions of the stone and the framing.
Meet the people who are doing the work and look for updates as the project continues.
Thirty six years experience as an architect specialising in the conservation of historic buildings and areas, ancient monuments and archaeological sites.
Currently working on condition assessments of and repairs to several National Historic Landmarks, buildings listed in the
National Register of Historic Places, and on State and City registered landmarks across the USA including a ruined plantation house, iconic 20th century Modern masterpieces, replica Ming dynasty Chinese pavilions, museums and downtown skyscrapers.
Formerly a staff consultant and the corporate practice leader for preservation technology with Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Now supporting SGH and its clients as necessary as a sub-consultant.
At English Heritage: with 60 staff and 25 consultants responsible for technical policy development, research, advice and standards, publications, training and outreach. Delivered EH’s Research Strategy, Conservation Principles, Estate Maintenance Standards and established the National Heritage Training Group. With others developed professional accreditation in building conservation and published the EH Research Transactions series and many award-winning books and technical papers. Project manager of the European Commission DGXII research project, Woodcare.
Repaired numerous ancient monuments including ruined abbeys and castles and parts of the World Heritage Sites at Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall. Established English Heritage’s emergency responses to fire disasters at York Minster, Hampton Court, Uppark and Windsor castle. Devised EH’s first Buildings-at-Risk strategy.
At the City of London Corporation: repaired the Roman City Walls and Baths. Safeguarded Wren’s St. Bennet’s Church and Barnard’s Castle ruins from adjacent development work.
Specialties:Expert of non-destructive diagnostics; cleaning and repair of terracotta; cleaning, conservation and repair of masonry including brick and stone work; mortars, plasters and renders.
Joint author of the New Orleans Charter reconciling the preventative maintenance and care of historic house museums and their collections.
During more than thirty-five years in business, Oak Grove
Restoration Company has evolved from a high-quality woodworking shop into a full-service general contracting and consulting company specializing in historic preservation and the careful conservation of irreplaceable historic architectural fabric. Our diverse client base includes state and local governments, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, private homeowners, historic sites, and house museums.
Oak Grove Restoration Company possesses strong capabilities in design-build, general contracting, and construction management drawn from the individual backgrounds of our personnel and from their collective knowledge of historic structures and experience in building conservation. We also maintain a staff of skilled preservation carpenters and continue to operate our own traditional millshop, allowing us direct control over the repair and replication of historic millwork, windows, and doors. Utilizing this broad range of services, we work with each client to develop and implement projects that meet their particular budget, schedule, and other operational requirements. We pride ourselves on our long-term relationships with many clients and on our ability to work collaboratively and creatively with a wide variety of preservation professionals, trades, and property owners.
The Downland Partnership offers unrivaled experience, quality and value for money throughout a wide range of measured survey products.
Their technologies include high definition laser-scanning, the latest in Leica total station technology and photogrammetry.
Precise dimensional survey since 1989
High resolution photography since 1990
Photogrammetry since 1995
Laser scanning since 2005
The Downland Partnership offers a wide range of products from simple site surveys to complex and detailed record surveys of historic buildings, intelligent BIM models and 3d spatial data of oil and gas installations. They also operate an experienced and successful resource carrying out surveys on the railways and undertaking high precision monitoring.
What better way to spend a rainy, Northern Neck weekend than in a wood shop, surrounded by antique (and yes, some electric) tools, aromatic shavings and fun people?
A group of 15+ gathered at Menokin on an early October weekend to learn some tricks of the trade in restoring and recreating wooden features of old buildings. Instructors from Oak Grove Restoration shared helpful information such as choosing the right wood for the job, the history of wood and why the old stuff is better than the new stuff, and which tools do what.
Plenty of hands-on activities had students carving, scraping, smoothing, sharpening and drilling. Enjoy the pictures!
Stayed tuned for information about our next workshop, which will probably be in the Spring.
Instructors Larry Singleton and Patrick Handler opened the session with instructions on wood splitting and how to replace the handle of an implement.
The shaping of the handle involved using a draw blade. This is a learned skill.
When words fail, use the white board.
Shaping and chiseling.
Knowing how and when to sharpen a chisel is important.
Participants were encouraged to bring their own tools in for sharpening.
Exploring the constructions timbers from Menokin.
Instructor Hank Handler explains that – while hand tools are fun and interesting to use….
…power tools get the job done fast!
Splitting woods involves placing the blade on the log…
…then whacking the handle to split it.
More draw blade trials.
The hand lathe is a great way to smooth off the side of a board to a nice, even finish.
Hank, the chisel whisperer, explains the fine art of “feeling the wheel.”
You have to wait until the sparks fly in just the right direction to know that you’re getting close.
Larry, the purist, brought out stones and leather strops for his sharpening instructions.
Students claimed a spot at the work bench to put their chiseling skills to the test. The assignment involved….
Carving out a space on a board…
….that this hinge will fit into…
…..using these tools.
Pay close attention to the light in the brim of Hank’s cap.
Next stop. How to repair a window.
Routing out the wood to assemble the new parts of the sash.
Hank offered a consultation on an engineering and restoration project in Washington. Yes, that is an iPad. And yes, he knows how to use it.
Course evaluations were completed at the end of the weekend.
Skills and knowledge gained: a comprehensive understanding of unique qualities of wood species and their use in traditional building
Day 2: Traditional Tools and Methods
Traditional woodworking tools
How to make repairs to beams, splices, scarf joints, Dutchman etc.
Window design, restoration, and maintenance
Door design, restoration, and maintenance
Skills and knowledge gained: a preliminary
knowledge of traditional wood working tools and their uses; an understanding of the traditional design of wood windows and doors, how to restore them, and tips for routine maintenance