Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House
9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA, USA
popeleighey1940.org - 703-780-4000
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House Alexandria Reviews
Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian vision for affordable housing Aug 07, 2011
The Pope-Leighey House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright by commission of an average citizen. It wasn't a mansion for a well-to-do heiress or industrialist. Rather, when Washington journalist Loren Pope read a Time magazine article about Frank Lloyd Wright, he wrote to the architect to ask him to design a house. Lloyd Wright agreed. But when the initial design was too expensive for Mr. Pope's budget, Lloyd Wright scaled it back. The design follows principles the architect termed "Usonian": economy of space, a single story, flat roof, natural lighting, a patio, and a carport (Lloyd Wright's invention) instead of a garage. The functional design influenced suburban houses built during the post-war housing boom and the one-story Rambler or Ranch houses of that era display many Usonian features. (Except the flat roof. It proved impractical in snow and heavy rain!)
The house was built in Falls Church, VA, in 1939. When Interstate Highway construction threatened demolition of the house in 1964, the Leighey family (second owners) donated it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, It was moved from Falls Church to the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation where it can be visited today.
Tickets for docent led tours can be purchased at Woodlawn, in combination with a Woodlawn tour ticket. Inside the house, visitors see how small and compact it is. (The house looks larger form the outside.) Two bedrooms and a bath in one wing and a living and dining room, kitchen, laundry, and small office in the other wing. Both wings in the L-shaped house open to a patio. The carport is the main entrance to the house. Light comes in from transom windows with radiant heat in the concrete slab. Frank Lloyd Wright did not like clutter and so limited the amount of storage space. (Mr. Pope later added more closet space with the architect's permission.)
I found it a very interesting house to visit and learn about. I especially admired the decorative carved windows, very much in the Frank Lloyd Write style. (But they would be difficult for the average homeowner to maintain!)
Admission is $8.50 ($15 combination ticket with Woodlawn.)
Part of the Daytripping around Virginia travel blog
Part of the list Historic Houses
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