Historic Woodlawn, on land gifted by George Washington, was the first site operated by the prestigious National Trust. The MADE: in America Student Design Project is the first modern showcase for the storied home near Mount Vernon.

Another first? When the inaugural winners of this design competition were announced April 18, the UNCG Interior Architecture team came in First Place.

The All American House is a collaboration between MADE: in America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This unique showcase is “a reinterpretation of Woodlawn for a 21st century family,” explained Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, professor of interior architecture at UNCG.

UNCG students pose in the award winning roomA team of UNCG Interior Architecture students led by Leimenstoll were invited to create a design for six of the rooms. Sixteen UNCG students participated last fall, creating “narratives” and designs and making their presentation at the end of the semester. Seven have continued through this semester, bringing it to fruition this week.

The UNCG students arrived at the house early Monday, April 15, to begin transforming the rooms. The house’s furniture had been temporarily placed in storage – though some items, such as a grandfather clock in the foyer, could not be moved. The scenario that had been created was that of a married couple with one teenage daughter. The students quickly got to work, arranging furniture, making pillows, placing stencils and art works. “Divide and conquer,” Leimenstoll said, as she moved from one room to the next, offering advice. By the end of Tuesday, their design work was ready.

The panel of judges on April 18 awarded UNCG First Place for the Family Parlor. UNCG also received Third Place for work in the Center Passage.

George Washington University, which won Second Place, designed two other Woodlawn rooms. The Corcoran School of Art + Design did a virtual design for another house on the site.

The Woodlawn home has a rich history. It was completed in 1805 on land George Washington carved from the Mt. Vernon estate. He gave the land for the home to his step-granddaughter, Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, and his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and encouraged them to build a home there. Eleanor Lewis was taken in by the Washingtons when she was 2, and lived with them until she and her husband moved to Woodlawn, a Woodlawn history explains.

The home was designed by William Thornton, architect of the US Capitol building.

The UNCG students are Kacie Leisure, Kathryn Frye, Anna Behrendt, Nicole Ware, Alyssa Hankus, Sharon Frazier and Lauren Postlmayr.

The students’ design work will debut to the public on Saturday, April 20 – and will remain open to the public until June 16. Woodlawn is located at 9000 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Va.

The home’s web site is www.woodlawnpopeleighey.org/woodlawn. More about the competition may be found at the MADE: In America web site at http://madeinamerica-usa.org/index.php/ct-menu-item-26

By Mike Harris
Photography by David Wilson