Menokin Makeover

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On its face, it was hardly a titillating topic to kick off Architecture Week, sponsored by the Richmond chapter of the American Institute of Architects. A capacity crowd of 180 folks fill the Virginia Historical Society auditorium April 9 to hear about a ruin. Not just any ruin, if the truth be told, but an inglorious old heap of stones on the Northern Neck called Menokin.

From 1769 to 1797, it was the suave, neo-Palladian dwelling of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe. But sometime in the 1960s, the long-abandoned manse partially collapsed. Fortunately, every possible scrap of the place — including the interior paneling, was salvaged. The remaining walls have been stabilized by the nonprofit Menokin Foundation, a group charged with figuring out what to do next....

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