Historic Ruin Rises to the Challenge

Menokin, National Historic Landmark in Virginia, Awarded $500,000 NEH Challenge Grant

2-Apr-2019 5:05 AM EDT

Menokin Foundation

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  • newswise-fullscreen Historic Ruin Rises to the Challenge

    Credit: Menokin Foundation

    Menokin as it will be

  • newswise-fullscreen Historic Ruin Rises to the Challenge

    Credit: Menokin Foundation

    Menokin a it is

  • newswise-fullscreen Historic Ruin Rises to the Challenge

    Credit: Menokin Foundation

    Menokin as it was


Historic Ruin Rises to the Challenge

Menokin, National Historic Landmark in Virginia, Awarded $500,000 NEH Challenge Grant

Newswise — Warsaw, VA.  The Menokin Foundation announced today that the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded them a $500,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant for the Glass House Project. Menokin is one of only 22 cultural institutions in the nation receiving an infrastructure grant. 

 The 3:1 challenge – which seeks to leverage federal funds against private investment -- requires Menokin to raise $1.5 million over the next four years. These funds will ensure the stabilization of the remaining portions of the 18th century structure as a backdrop for educational programming.

“These new NEH-supported projects will help shore up the nation’s most valuable assets: its history, literature, historic sites, regional traditions, and cultural institutions,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is proud to support the advancement of learning and sharing of knowledge nationwide.”  

Menokin’s Glass House Project, adopted in 2011, completes parts of the collapsed house with walls and a roof of architectural glass supported by a steel armature. The glass house structure will protect what remains of the existing ruin. Traditional restoration methods cover up evidence of the human story that historic structures present. In preserving the remains of this National Historic Landmark in an innovative way, Menokin places the emphasis on the deconstructed architectural elements of the house and the people who built it.

Menokin Executive Director, Sam McKelvey notes, “The NEH grant will have an extraordinary impact on our site and the region as we move this engaging and forward-thinking project into the national spotlight. Through research projects and visitors, Menokin will play an active role in local economic development.”

“Early support from the Virginia General Assembly, and a National Park Service ‘Save America’s Treasures’ grant got the ball rolling for Menokin,” says Hullie Moore, President of the Menokin Foundation Board of Trustees. “Validation of The Glass House Project and the mission and vision of Menokin by NEH provides a welcome and respected lift to our Raise The Glasscapital campaign to save Menokin. We are humbled by the recognition.”

Defying the downward trend for visitation to historic sites, Menokin had a 19% increase in visitation in 2018. Continued curiosity about the “glass house” and interest in the stabilization work on the ruin boosts tourism and engages the community in educational and recreational programming.

 “This Challenge Grant will allow Menokin to finally do the work of marrying their absolutely unique approach to preservation with thoughtful and resourceful programming,” explains Lydia Mattice Brandt, Ph.D. and Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. “The questions of how and why people make choices and the material evidence of those choices will become more interesting and complicated with a stabilized building to interpret. This structure will attract more funding, visitors, and attention to the relatively isolated site, ensuring its growth and longevity.”

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About Menokin

Menokin is a National Historic Landmark: the 1769 home of Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Francis Lightfoot Lee and Rebecca Tayloe Lee. The Menokin Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is supported by philanthropic contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Menokin’s mission is to use the historic ruin and the surrounding built and natural environments to transcend the traditional house museum experience. Menokin uses contemporary methods to create opportunities for the public to contemplate and explore the building of America.

About the Glass House Project

Menokin’s Glass House Project is called the “most engaging preservation project in America.” Architect Jorge Silvetti developed a unique treatment plan for the existing historic house structure. The architectural firm of Machado Silvetti assembled a multidisciplinary team with impressive expertise, including Robert Silman Associates for structural engineering, Eckersley O’Callaghan for glass design and Consigli Construction for project management. The stabilization portion of the $8.5 million project began in 2015.The plan is not to reconstruct a traditional historic house museum, but instead to create a new paradigm in conservation and heritage management.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.



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