In the Northern Neck of Virginia, restorative treatment of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lightfoot Lee’s eighteenth century home, Menokin House, has begun by Boston-based Machado and Silvetti Associates with the support of the nonprofit Menokin Foundation.
The neo-Palladian brick-and-stone dwelling, built circa 1769, was built upon a 1,000-acre wedding gift from wife Rebecca Tayloe’s father. The house remained with descendants of the family for many years, until it fell into abandonment in 1935. In the mid-1960s, the home’s interior woodwork was removed to protect it from vandalism, though almost immediately afterward—in 1968—a fallen tree aggravated its many injuries throughout the years and brought the structure to collapse, leaving the house in precarious condition.
Machado and Silvetti’s restoration of the Menokin House will preserve the historic fabric of the structure by leaving its damages unresolved. A custom glass façade will encapsulate the broken exterior, juxtaposing the existing stone-and-brick. The glass addition, which will be hung from the roof eaves and laterally constrained by struts that connect with the interior walls, further highlights its original fragments. Translucent flooring will allow visitors a comprehensive view of the home.
Menokin currently sits on a 500-acre site, with the renovated house serving primarily as an educational center. The scope of the interior work proposes up to nine individual exhibition spaces including the dining room, wine cellar, and southwest chamber. The Menokin Foundation plans to host various local events, scholastic programs, and recreational activities.
According to the firm, Machado and Silvetti has developed a design strategy that adds three new layers which stabilize, enclose, and rematerialize the structure. The stabilization phase is already underway. Schematic design for the remainder of the project will begin in January.
Chazen Museum of Art, a collaboration with Machado and Silvetti and Continuum Architects + Planners.
Update: an earlier version of this article misspelled Rebecca Tayloe's name as Taylor.