Rendered view of north elevation depicting stabilized rubble walls, steel armature and contemporary glass enclosure.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Rendered view of north elevation depicting stabilized rubble walls, steel armature and contemporary glass enclosure.


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.

East-west section illustrates interior spaces with salvaged interior finishes installed in dining room (at right), and barrel vaulted wine cellar, fireplace brickwork (at left).
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates East-west section illustrates interior spaces with salvaged interior finishes installed in dining room (at right), and barrel vaulted wine cellar, fireplace brickwork (at left).


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.

Photograph of existing Menokin house ruin, which is currently protected by a temporary open air roof structure and stabilized by temporary bracing
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Photograph of existing Menokin house ruin, which is currently protected by a temporary open air roof structure and stabilized by temporary bracing


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.

Interior rendering from second floor with exposed fireplace brick in foreground, and open views to the landscape and river harbor.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Interior rendering from second floor with exposed fireplace brick in foreground, and open views to the landscape and river harbor.


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.

Interior rendering shows exposed rubble walls and glass floor over barrel vaulted wine cellar.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Interior rendering shows exposed rubble walls and glass floor over barrel vaulted wine cellar.


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.

Southwest aerial view of the proposed Menokin house.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Southwest aerial view of the proposed Menokin house.


Rendered view of northern elevation across agricultural fields illustrates neo-Palladian arrangement of buildings with central house flanked by kitchen and office outbuildings.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Rendered view of northern elevation across agricultural fields illustrates neo-Palladian arrangement of buildings with central house flanked by kitchen and office outbuildings.


Corner detail illustrates collaboration of stabilized rubble walls, steel armature, glass enclosure and interior liner.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Corner detail illustrates collaboration of stabilized rubble walls, steel armature, glass enclosure and interior liner.

Site plan shows main house, office, and kitchen locations in relationship to likely locations of river harbor, tobacco rolling roads, slave quarters, and agricultural fields.
Courtesy Machado and Silvetti Associates Site plan shows main house, office, and kitchen locations in relationship to likely locations of river harbor, tobacco rolling roads, slave quarters, and agricultural fields.


Machado and Silvetti’s award-winning urban campus reinvention.

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.