#297: The Pope-Leighey House
This weekend my dad visited me. Because I have the absolute best possible dad in the world (which I think I already talked about before) it was an excellent visit. My dad has been to DC to visit me many times, including the time I started the first list of reasons I love DC.
These are the trips I remember:
- First trip we went to Kramerbooks and to to the Kennedy Center. Twice. We saw “Shear Madness” and “Spring Awakening.”
- Second trip we went to Arlington National Cemetery and the National Cathedral.
- Third trip we went to the Library of Congress and I started the list.
- Fourth trip my sister, my dad’s wife and my brother also came, we we went everywhere.
- Fifth trip we went to the White House. We visited the West Wing. My dad still talks about this.
I can’t think of any tourist-y DC place my dad and I haven’t been to. This time around I wanted to find a new DC place to go to. It had to be somewhere interesting, somewhere we hand’t been before and somewhere that we would both like to go. I found the Pope-Leighey House. When I lived in Virginia I saw signs for the Frank Lloyd Wright house when I was driving around, but never went. I like his houses and have had fun visiting them, but they are really my father’s thing. We visited the house he built in Grand Rapids and his own house outside of Chicago. A few years ago I gifted my dad a first edition of The Fountainhead, Any Rand’s novel loosely-based on Frank Lloyd Wright and Falling Water. A couple of years ago I also gifted him Loving Frank, a novel by Nancy Horan about the architect and his mistress.
This time around we visited the Pope-Leighey House. The house is in Virginia somewhere south of Mount Vernon. It was built for the Popes, a middle-class family that lived in Falls Church in the 1930’s. They owned it for a few years, then sold it to the Leigheys. They owned it until the government of Virginia in all its wisdom decided that I-66 was going to pass right through the site of the house and that the house had to be demolished. The Leigheys -really just Ms. Leighey, who was by then a widow- gave the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They took the house and moved it to its current site.
The house is amazing as all Frank Lloyd Wright houses are. Something that feels homey and old and new and unlivable all at the same time. This particular house would put Ikea to shame. Everything closes up, folds down, collapses or can be assembled or moved to be something else. It is spacious and filled with light. It is also very fun to visit with your father, should your father happen to be very interested in architecture, very knowledgeable about Frank Lloyd Wright and also very curious. It seemed pretty obvious to me that he knew more than the tour guide, as happens to many times.
Should your own father not happen to know anything about houses or American architecture or Frank Lloyd Wright, I still recommend that you visit. Then at the end, take a picture in front of the house like you own it. It’s fun.