Menokin - The Francis Lightfoot Lee House

2020-07-24 17:24:17

Menokin ProjectThe Menokin plantation house and national landmark in Warsaw, VA is in perilous, partially collapsed condition. A bold plan is underway to replace the missing walls and roof with structural glass for one of the most revolutionary historic house museums on the planet.

Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of our country’s founding fathers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence built Menokin in 1769. The Georgian-style manor house is a unique example of original colonial architecture.

The locally sourced sandstone, white oak, and pine used in its construction give Menokin a unique appearance when compared to similar Virginia homes of the same period. It is also unique in that it is one of the few 18th-century Virginia homes whose original architectural drawings still exist.

Vacant Menokin before the tree fell The estate went through many hands over the years. By the 1930’s, it was vacant. A large, neighboring tree fell through the house in 1968, partially demolishing it.

Despite this, the house was still recognized as an important part of America’s history. Between 1968 and 1971, it was added to the Virginia Landmarks, the National Register of Historic Places, and designated a National Historic Landmark.

An Audacious Plan

By 1995 the house was in ruins, yet around 80 percent of its original materials survived, including the home’s intricately carved interior woodwork. The ruins received a protective steel canopy in 2000 but was still open to the elements on all sides.

Menokin in ruinsIn 2014, the Menokin Foundation started work on a bold plan to replace the historic home’s missing walls and roof with structural glass. Yes: glass.

When completed, the new, transparent walls and roof will allow visitors to examine 18th-century craftsmanship and building techniques in situ. The project, which promises one of the most unique historic house experiences in the world, should be complete by 2022.

Visiting Menokin

Though the restoration project is far from completion, you can still visit the grounds and tours are available.

The Hard Hat Tour is a 1 to 1.5 hour, in-depth look at all points of interest on the property. This includes a hard hat tour through the house. Tours are available at 2pm, Tuesday through Saturday, April through October. The cost is $15 per person.

You can also enjoy Self-Guided Tours during regular Visitors Center Hours for a suggested $5 donation per person.

Menokin is located at 4037 Menokin Road, Warsaw, VA 22572. Gates open from 7am to 7pm, daily. Visit the website for more information, directions, and updated hours.

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