Wright's Home For Loren Pope In Mt. Vernon
Original Owner: Loren Pope
Address: 9000 Richmond Hwy, Mt Vernon
Date Built: 1939
In 1939 Loren Pope, a $50 a week copy editor for the Washington Star, wrote Frank Llloyd Wright asking for the architect to design a house for him. Wright replied within a few weeks: “Dear Loren”, he wrote, “Of course I am ready to give you a house.”
Pope soon found that local banks were not so eager to finance his dream house. The banks found the design too unorthodox to fund; eventually Pope worked out an agreement with his employer to finance the house, which cost $7,000.
The house is an L in plan, with the longer arm containing two bedrooms and a bathroom; the shorter containing the living room and dining area. The entrance, study and kitchen are located at the juncture of the two wings. Wright opens the private side of the house to the outside by using tall glass doors and banks of windows. The house is designed on a 2 by 4 foot rectangular grid which is scored into the Cherokee red concrete floor. The wood of the house is cypress.
Pope and his family only lived in the house for 6 years, then he decided to move to the country and pursue farming. New owners Robert and Marjorie Leighy moved in in 1946. In 1961, the state of Virginia informed them that their house was condemned to make way for Interstate 66. Robert died in 1963, unsure what the fate of his house would be.
But Marjorie Leighy decided that she wasn’t going to stand by while the state destroyed the house. Eventually she arranged an agreement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Leighy donated the house to the National Trust, who arranged to move the house to the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation, a 127-acre National Trust Historic site in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
In 1964, the house was dismantled in sections and reassembled on a slope at Woodlawn. In the mid 1990’s the house began to exhibit structural problems because of unstable soils beneath the building. The house was again relocated a short distance, reopening in the summer of 1996.