Monday, May 23, 2016

E is for Educational Experiences Everywhere

 My mom is in town until tomorrow, and since she lives so far away, it just seemed like a missed opportunity to go to work while she was still here. So I took the day off, and we decided to explore a couple of the lesser-known attractions in our very historic and cultural area.

First stop? Woodlawn Plantation, a home that was built in 1800 by George Washington's nephew and his bride, Martha Washington's granddaughter. Originally the main residence on a 2000 acre farm that Washington gave the couple as a wedding gift, today's much smaller property is only about three miles from Mount Vernon. The house, with its two-foot thick brick walls, survives today despite being abandoned in the late 1800s, and is actually grander than Mount Vernon in some ways.

On the very same property, there is also a mid 20th century dwelling designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Pope-Leighey House was originally constructed in 1949 in Falls Church, but the expansion of Route 66 in 1967 created a move it or lose it imminent domain situation that was resolved by an imaginative deal with the US Register of Historic Places which resulted in moving the home piece-by-piece 20 miles to the south and rebuilding it on a corner of the Woodlawn property. This design is an example of Wright's Usonian ideals, or a small, functional house for a regular family (as long as they didn't Have any furniture or need any storage!). It was cool, though, and it would have fit right in with a current episode of Tiny Houses.

Our next stop was Gunston Hall, George Mason's home, built in 1750. It, too, was a pleasant surprise. Remarkably preserved and restored, the house looked deceptively compact from the outside, but it has 2400 square feet on each level. It's main hall, eight bedrooms, formal dining room, and two parlors were gracious and spacious. In fact, the main parlor is one of the 100 most beautiful rooms in America, according to Helen Comstock's book. It's hard to disagree when you stand beneath the 12 foot ceiling, surrounded by intricately carved walnut moulding, crimson silk damask walls, deep blue paint, and gilded trim.

On a Monday in May, we had each of these places, these gems, practically to ourselves, and besides being a really fun day? We learned a lot! Plus I got to spend the day with my mom.🙂

Life Lesson: "There's treasure everywhere." --Bill Watterson

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful post - love the description of these historical places. I really liked Gunston Hall as well. Glad you got time with your mom.