The Menokin Glass House: A Revolutionary Project

Posted in on site by Editor on December 9, 2014


Proposed ‘Glass House’ Restoration for Menokin in Warsaw, Virginia
from the website Menokin: Rubble with a Cause

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From the blog of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Meghan O’Connor, “Eighteenth-Century House Ruin to Be Restored…With Glass,” Preservation Nation Blog (3 December 2014).

What some people see when they look at Menokin is a collapsed house, an old ruin, a testament to the perils of ignoring preservation. What the staff and Board at Menokin see, however, is a cutting-edge preservation opportunity.

The Menokin Foundation does not want to restore the house to its original condition. Instead, the Foundation believes Menokin is more valuable to the public in pieces. Menokin was home to Declaration of Independence signer, Francis Lightfoot Lee. The land was given to Lee and his wife Rebecca Tayloe by his father-in-law as a wedding gift. The house was built around 1769. . . .


Re-imagining a Ruin: Exterior Structure Cutaway View

Dubbed the “Glass House Project,” the Foundation floated the idea around the preservation community. Pope says, “We started getting really positive responses to it. We got some raised eyebrows, believe me, but we came to [the] consensus that this was an approach worth pursuing.”

To design the Glass House Project, the Foundation hired world-renowned architecture firm Machado and Silvetti Associates in 2012.  Designing projects ranging from an addition to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art to the expansion of the Getty Villa, Machado and Silvetti focus on creating contemporary and innovative designs that merge with historic contexts. . . .

The Foundation is currently developing and implementing Phase 1 of the Glass House Project — to build a glass shell around the current remaining structure.

Menokin’s innovation does not just stop at glass. The Foundation’s ultimate goal for the site is to be an internationally known learning and teaching center. In a departure from many historic house museum models, Menokin does not want to focus solely on one story or one time period. The site will not just be a colonial relic, but a place that can have modern implications for, and showcase in a revolutionary way, preservation, history, architecture, and natural resources. . .

Meghan O’Connor is the member services assistant at the National Trust. She enjoys learning, writing, and talking about museums, art, architecture, and anything historic. She worked with Menokin on the museum’s historical interpretation as part of a graduate school class.

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Note (added 15 December 2014) — The original version of this posting included a photo from the original concept team; the current photos comes from the Menokin blog.

3 Responses

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  1. Pierre-Henri Biger said, on December 9, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Just an add-on rather than a comment, after having seen the Octagon House exhibition last month : http://issuu.com/menokinfoundation/docs/exhibit_book_10-22-14

    • Editor said, on December 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Many thanks! What a terrible oversight on my part, and the exhibition looks fascinating. A separate posting is on the way. -Craig

  2. Michael Yonan said, on December 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I think that is just a totally cool idea. Wow!

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