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Looking Back: Preserving History One School At A Time
30 May, 2019

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Looking Back: Preserving History One School At A Time

Today we’re looking back to one of our most interesting and lesser known projects. It involves love, history, education and the beautiful plains of Virginia.

In 1998 MMD finalized construction on the Curry Morter Weekend Home in The Plains, Virginia. The property was special to the Curry family because it represented a halfway point during a particularly challenging time in their relationship. The couple worked in two completely different cities: one, in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the other in the American Bankers Association in DC. During their search for a solution, they stumbled on to a rundown white building on a hill right in the middle of their commute. They decided to purchase and transform it into a private home soon afterward. The structure was once The Plains School at Foster Hill, a two-room schoolhouse for African American children before the desegregation of the 1960s. What began as a search for a new home now quickly became a mission to rescue a piece of history. The owners met Michael Marshall by happenstance but immediately learned that he was the perfect designer for this unique project.

“My father attended a one-room school growing up in Lynchburg. Times were hard, but there was a lot of love in those schoolhouses. Saving the better part of this one’s history was like coming full circle,” said Michael. “I tried to balance old and new. I tried not to erase the memory of what was here before but to enhance it with details historic to the house, adding modern counterpoints for today’s living.” MMD completely renovated the space. The design featured new bathrooms, kitchen, custom amenities, a stone fireplace and a porch bench designed by Michael himself. The original design intent was never abandoned; most of the original floorplan was kept intact and original materials where possible were salvaged, referencing a rich yet challenging past.

Read the original Washington Post article here.