Tucked away in Virginia’s Northern Neck, just 55 miles east of Richmond, is Menokin: the withered grounds once tread by a native tribe, an 18th century revolutionary, and countless Black slaves.
The land is expansive and almost barren, save for the crumbling husk of a plantation house once owned by Francis Lightfoot Lee, a state politician and signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1995, the Menokin Foundation was established to preserve and interpret the historic home. Since then, the organization has recovered countless stories lying dormant on these grounds, from the Rappahannock tribe’s centuries-old heritage to the lives of the powerful Lee family.
But the legacy of slavery is an open wound at Menokin. In its commitment to tell the property’s full story, the Foundation turned to Camden Whitehead, associate professor of interior design. He recruited a team of 12 interior design students from middle Of broad, VCUarts’ design and innovation lab, to draft potential interpretations of the slave experience at the historic landmark.
In the photos below, mOb students share their designs and speak about the research process and objectives of the months-long project.