Menokin Warsaw Reviews
Learning from the Ruins of Menokin Apr 26, 2013
Menokin was the Northern Neck home of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Rebecca (Tayloe) Lee. Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734-1797) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence along with his brother Richard Henry Lee. (They were both members of the Lee family of Stratford Hall.) The house is a ruin today, but has been stabilized and there are plans to use the exposed sections to tell the story of Colonial era building techniques and Northern Neck craftsmanship.
Menokin was built in 1769-1771. The house was a wedding gift from Rebecca's father, John Tayloe II of nearby Mt. Airy plantation. Menokin was later owned by Ludwell Lee, Francis' nephew, then by the Belfield family, and eventually by decendants of the Tayloe family.
Menokin was relatively intact until 1968 when a tree fell into the house. The Menokin Foundation plans to preserve and exhibit the structure by replacing missing walls and floors with architectural glass. Much of the interior 18th century woodwork had been removed an stored in the 1940s and 1950s. The woodwork will be put back in place as work on the house continues.
We started our visit to Menokin at the Visitor Center. The docent was pleased to see us. (Menokin is off the beaten path.) She gave us a description of the house and its two outbuildings using an exploded model. (I had not encountered something like that before. The models were accurate down to the basement dirt floor!) Next we watched a video about Menokin and Francis Lee and then we saw the woodwork in storage.
The house itself is some distance from the Visitor Center. The entire ruin has been placed under a protective cover. About half the house is standing. Visitors cannot yet go into the structure, but much can be seen from the outside. One sheet of architectural glass has been set in place to replicate an exterior wall. The stone foundations and exterior walls, chimneys and interior wall brickwork, and wooden beams are exposed. Even a vaulted brick wine cellar is in the open.
At the rear of the house there was once a view to Cat Point Creek from the garden terraces. The terraces are visible, but the area is now a forest.
I found the state of the house most interesting, very different from the typical restored house museum. One can view how it was all put together.
There is no admoission charge, but donations are accepted.
Part of the Around the Chesapeake travel blog
Part of the list Historic Houses
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!