Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House is located just outside Washington, DC in Alexandria, Virginia along US 1. It has been relocated twice before reaching it’s current location in the Woodlawn Plantation. It’s probably been five years since I visited this house, but I remember that it struck me immediately as being one of the most amazing and moving buildings I’ve ever experienced. I think part of it was how much care had been taken with the design of such a modest structure, how it opens to the landscape, and how each space was designed particular to the function, without an inch to spare – from the two foot wide hallway to the bedrooms, the high ceiling in the living area, the lower ceiling in the dining room where folks would be sitting, and the low entry roof that is barely 7 feet high. The whole building has an intimate relationship with human scale, but never feels cramped or confining because there are so many windows with views out to the landscape.
The Pope-Leighey House was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Usonian” homes, which is an acronym for the “United States of North America”. His goal was to design an affordable every-man’s house and there are many built examples of these type houses around the United States. This one happens to be one of the most modest examples, and, as was common with many of his designs, it still went over budget and stressed the original owner’s finances. These homes are known for having the same wood siding inside and out, a masonry kitchen and hearth area, and radiant (heated) concrete slab flooring stained cherokee red in color.
The screening on the porch wraps over the top and above the partially uncovered porch. Definitely an inspiring house to visit.