MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE
THE MENOKIN FOUNDATION, WARSAW, VIRGINIA
AREA: 383 SF
PROGRAM: OUTDOOR CLASSROOM /PAVILION
DURATION: FALL 2017—SPRING 2018 (BUILT IN 5 DAYS)
TOTAL COST: $13,000
AWARDS: 2018 AIA VIRGINIA MERIT AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE, 2018 ARCHITIZER A+ AWARDS SPECIAL MENTION
ARCHITECT: REID ARCHITECTURE PLLC, REID FREEMAN ARCHITECT
The Ghost Structure is a pavilion on the grounds of the Menokin Foundation in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Menokin is a former plantation and the site of the 18th-century house of Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. The rural 400 acre site is located in the Northern Neck Region of Virginia which has been called the “Athens of the New World” and was an area of early colonial settlement close to the Chesapeake Bay. The Menokin Foundation is not only dedicated to the preservation of Lee’s house, but is actively engaged in reviving the stories and the contributions of all those who lived and worked on the site throughout its complex history. The Ghost Structure was commissioned by the foundation to help accommodate an increased number of school groups and visitors, to demonstrate 18th century timber framing techniques, while also acting as a literal and metaphorical platform to open conversations about the role that slavery played in early colonial plantations and our nation’s past.
The Ghost Structure’s design stems from research of the few remaining 18th century timber structures from the isolated Northern Neck Region. The structure’s proportions and details are physical demonstrations of the region’s vernacular construction techniques that were gathered through surveys of remaining 18th and 19th century structures. It’s overall footprint, 15.5’ x 25,’ is based on archaeological records from the former dwelling.
The framing of the Ghost Structure is left exposed and wrapped in a translucent building fabric to reveal it’s construction details as an educational component of the structure. The construction of the pavilion also embodied an educational approach by engaging local craftsmen, students, and volunteers during an on-site workshop in May 2018. In total, the pavilion was built in five days with local materials to minimize environmental impact.