Sunday, March 21, 2010

Annapolis, MD

Last Saturday was incredibly warm. 75 and sunny. First weekend this year where it hasn't been snowing or raining. So, we joined the rest of the crowds in an activity more suited for nice weather outdoors. Annapolis is only about an hour drive, and we had not yet visited. Along with the usual visitor draws like shopping, restaurants and the Naval Academy, it was Maryland days. So everyone was highlighting the history and uniqueness of Maryland.
Here's the view of the downtown waterfront shopping area.

One of the historical actors from a near-by museum.

The waterfront. There were several ice cream shops nearby with steady business as everyone got ice cream and wandered in the sunshine.

Daffodils are finally blooming! Spring came late, but now that it is here, everything is blooming at once.
The waterfront within the Naval Academy. It's a huge campus, so we only saw part of it. Probably the most important part was the gift shop :)

The sign may be a little hard to read, but it was the story of the goat mascot.

Mascot at the entrance to the Naval Academy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey Frank Lloyd Wright house

Many things around DC were closed or very reduced hours during the winter, and then with the even worse than usual weather, most historical locations were closed more often. Woodlawn had their spring reopening this month, so last weekend we went. There were several things that attracted me, and Ryan just went along as my driver. Woodlawn is near Mount Vernon that we have visited several times, they were having their annual Needlework exhibition which is a show that anyone can enter and the Frank Lloyd Wright Pope-Leighey house is on the Woodlawn grounds.
From: Woodlawn is a gracious 126-acre estate that was originally part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The main Federal-style house was designed by the architect of the U.S. Capitol, Dr. William Thornton, and constructed between 1800 and 1805 for Washington’s nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his bride, Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis. During the Lewis’ years in residence, Woodlawn comprised over 2,000 acres and was worked by over 100 workers, at least 90 of whom were enslaved people of African descent.
The most interesting part of the plantation's owners: In 1901, the playwright Paul Kester moved in — with his mother, brother and 60 cats — and began “restoring” the house to livable conditions.
Fortunately, there were other owners who were able to finish the restoration.
Another rainy weekend day, but we ventured out anyways. Woodlawn is very similar inside to Mount Vernon, but appears to be more planned with fewer additions. A beautiful view as we walked up. Spring has been so late here that the daffodils were not even close to blooming, and I saw one crocus bloom. There were no guided tours, so we were able to wander the house and enjoy the views (and the Needlework exhibits). I hadn't really considered the typical audience - large groups of old ladies, so Ryan didn't blend too well. They took advantage of this when one of the ladies got her car stuck in the mud in the parking lot. He helped push it out.

The Frank Lloyd Wright house was originally in Falls Church (where we live), but had to be moved for the expansion of route 66. You can see the scale from the people who were out front waiting for the tour.
The house of moderate cost is not only America’s major architectural problem but the problem most difficult for her major architects. -Frank Lloyd Wright, 1936
Commissioned in 1939 by journalist Loren Pope, the Usonian home was a manifesto of Wright’s belief in American design for the people, unburdened by past architectural traditions. Wright’s innovative use of four natural materials (wood, brick, glass and concrete) created a sense of a large, more spacious abode – in only 1,200 square feet.
Looks a little dark in these pictures, but we heard it was beautiful in the sun. And once we were inside, we were able to appreciate the design. It felt very spacious, much larger than 1200 sq feet. The window designs were very innovative, since this house was built pre-air conditioning days, there was a large focus on air circulation. The floors had radiant heating.

We learned that the little windows have a unique in each of his houses. The house was actually moved twice, the last time because it was falling apart and sliding down a hill. At that time, the brick was replaced and the cyprus wood all sanded down, which is why there are color gradiations as it returns to a weathered silver.

A picture of the two of us is rare, so I decided to share.

After the tour, Ryan said he would like to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. But after a discussion of restoring old houses, cost of an actual Frank Lloyd Wright house and the inconvenience of where they are located, he amended this to a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house. I agreed!