History Under Glass



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restoration options

Historic interpretation has to allow for various strategies besides authentic restoration. Re-creating the past using original techniques and materials may be the right path for some buildings...but why not explore a richer scheme of allowing the new and old to coexist? Why not create a new hybrid where the likelihood of true restoration is very low, thereby saving the original impulses by giving the place a new life?
Take a look at what Charles Gwathmy did at Whig Hall on the Princeton campus. A neo-classical pavilion burned and was essentially gutted. Gwathmy inserted a new structure within, creating a combination that allowed the original structure to communicate with modern thought and construction. Worth looking at.
We need to carefully analyse each "restoration" project and determine new ways of preserving our history. Slavish restoration is only the most obvious route to save our structures and is so well travelled that it is losing its appeal. Lets explore more invention and creative design directions...

Michael McCulloch AIA more than 10 years ago

Do Not Do This!

Sad to see the result of what decades of neglect has wrought.
Menokin is not the only great Virginia house to suffer this fate.
However, this "Glass House" concept is absolutely wrong.
Do not do this! Let traditional methods and scholarship prevail!
Hopefully the foundation will not be able to raise the money.
Sadly, I would like to attend the Spring bluegrass festival,but do not want to contribute to this project even in a small way.
Better it languish as a ruin like Rosewell than be trussed up so.
Steven King

Steven King more than 10 years ago



262562555 more than 10 years ago

Innovation AND Restoration

Fantastic article - a brilliant showcase of two centuries bridged together by history and enabled by innovative uses of technology. What an incredible way to envision the 'future' and learn from the past. This IS Virginia's heritage!

E Burwell WS more than 12 years ago


There's something poetic about mixing historic and contemporary materials to create a dynamic new structure that benefits from both--the grounding of the distant past and the vision and muscle of the modern. Being able to visually identify the gaps that time has carved into the structure adds to our appreciation of its long life, and interacting with the new contemporary structure that now frames the site invites us in to enjoy it on our own terms. Bravo.

Doug C more than 12 years ago


So much preservation seems about absolute authenticity at the cost of accessibility or general interest. How much better is it to find a way to both preserve an historic site and give new life to it. The idea outlined here for Menokin is so innovative, modern and thoughtful -- love it! Can't wait to visit the house 10 years from now.

Tom C more than 12 years ago

Gorgeous and inspired

I am thankful for those who seek to preserve the past and integrate it into our present; it looks like a work of art in progress. Kudos, Ms. Dillard!

Laurie S. more than 12 years ago

Visionary Idea

I love the idea of showing an 18th century house in its “parts and pieces” rather than through traditional reconstruction. It informs the visitor in an innovative and unique way, while still respecting the past. I look forward to seeing it in person!

Lem Robertson more than 12 years ago

Utterly foul idea

It will create a kind of mummified corpse of a house.

Why not just reassemble the parts in storage and make a proper house?

This is ghastly and freakish.

Matthew Hardy more than 12 years ago

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