Pope-Leighey House

After we went to George Washington’s Mill and Distillery we drove down the street and straight through the traffic light to the entrance of Woodlawn Plantation.  Woodlawn Plantation is the house that George Washington built for his granddaughter and her husband as their wedding present.  It was not open to the public when we were there due to rennovations.  However, the Pope-Leighey house sits on the Woodlawn Plantation property.  You have to buy tickets to the Pope-Leighey house in the gift shop of the Woodlawn Plantation.  The driveway to the house is at the opposite end of the parking lot from the plantation house.  A port-o-potty marks the entrance to the driveway of the house.  Otherwise it would probably be hidden.  I don’t know if the port-o-potty is there all the time or just there during the rennovations of Woodlawn.

Woodlawn Plantation house

Frank Lloyd Wright built the Pope-Leighey house in 1940 for Mr. Pope who was a writer at the paper that was to become a part of The Washington Post.  It cost about $7-8000 to build which was over budget and a lot of money after the Depression.  It was sold for for less than half of the building price several years later to the Leigheys.  The house had to be moved in the 1960’s when Interstate 66 was built and it was relocated to its current location.  Mrs. Leighey recognized that the house needed to be saved simply based on who built it, so she made a deal with the National Trust.  She agreed to give the house and the money she got from the seizure of the land for the building of I-66 to the Trust, if she could live in the house until she died.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a famous mid 20th century American architect.  He is best known for The Guggenheim Museum and the Fallingwater house.  My husband studied industrial design in college and worked in New York City for the company that designed the lighting for the ball for the millennial New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, so he likes stuff like Frank Lloyd Wright.  I find some architecture interesting and nice to look at, but the actual “design” does not interest me so much.  Since we were so close to a Frank Lloyd Wright house I agreed to stop.

I did not know much about Frank Lloyd Wright, other than he was an architect.  I now know I would have never wanted a house designed or built by him.  He was a control freak!  I like his idea that the structure should almost be an extension of the natural surroundings and should incorporate as many natural elements as possible. For instance there is a lot of natural lighting in the house.  He was, also, one of the first architects to use radiant floor heating and unique ventilation systems so that the house did not need a heating or cooling system.  However, he did not believe in storage.  His philosophy was that if your belongings could not fit in the spaces he provided then you had too much stuff and needed to sell the excess.  He believed that the heart of the house was the living room, so the kitchen is very tiny.  The Popes had to ask to have drawers built in the kitchen and in the closet in the master bedroom. You could not bring in your own furniture; you had to use what he built.  The main hallway in the house that leads to the bedrooms is the exact measurements of the hallway of a passenger car on a train, so you couldn’t move in furniture even if you wanted to.  You could not put anything on the walls; you had to place things on the built in shelves.  You could not have drapes or any type of coverings on the windows, as this would block the natural lighting.  I can’t imagine living in a house with all those restrictions.

You could take pictures of the outside of the house only.  There are so many things that we have seen on these trips that you can’t take pictures of.  The most common explanation is that “some” of the items are on loan or owned by people other than the museum, estate, etc…

Anyhoo…  It was interesting.

front of the house

The front of the house was meant to be a car port.

some the windows that also doubled as vents

some of the windows in one of the bedrooms

the back of the house

the side porch

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