Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House – Alexandria, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House

This twice-relocated "Usonian" home is among the smallest built by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  

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Frank Lloyd Wright is widely regarded as one of the greatest architects in American history, and perhaps one of the most creative home designers of all time. Pennsylvania is home to a collection of so-called “Usonian” homes that demonstrates Wright’s eschewing of the conventional building styles of his time. An impassioned letter to Wright from the original owner of this home, Loren Pope, is where the story of this small wonder begins.

Pope, a writer for the Washington Evening Star, had taken an interest in Wright’s architectural designs in 1938, and met him that same year during a presentation in Washington, D.C. While there, he implored Wright to build a home for him. Wright initially rebuffed him, but reconsidered after Pope wrote him a letter which stroked Wright’s ego and reiterated Pope’s desire to live in a home built by Wright. Wright was moved by the missive and agreed to the project. The home was built at its original location in 1941 in Falls Church, Virginia. The Pope family lived in the home from 1941 until 1946 when they moved to a large farm in Loudoun County. That same year, they sold the home to Robert and Marjorie Leighey.

Fifteen years later in 1961, the Leigheys received news that the house would be condemned due to the construction of I-66 along the corridor where it was located. The year after Robert’s death in 1963, Marjorie Leighey donated the home and the entire condemnation award from the State of Virginia to the National Trust for Historic Places, which in return granted Mrs. Leighey the right to live the rest of her life in the home, which was relocated to the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1995, the house was relocated a second time because of an unstable foundation to a place 30-feet away from its original spot at Woodlawn.

As the only public Frank Lloyd Wright House in the D.C. metropolitan area, it is a must-see for fans of Wright’s architecture.

Know Before You Go

Tours of the houses are available through the official website.

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