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May 2013

UNCG Interior Architecture reinvents an American classic

Woodlawn is a quintessential American estate. Located near Mount Vernon on land carved out of that historic plantation's tract by George Washington himself, Woodlawn has stood for more than two centuries. The house was designed by William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol, and was originally home to Washington's nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and his wife Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis.

UNCG designers won first place for their design of Woodlawn's family parlor

UNCG designers won first place for their design of Woodlawn's family parlor.

The house was home to civil rights advocate Oscar Underwood in the 1920s and has been a museum since 1949, owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

With such a pedigree, how could a home like Woodlawn be updated for modern living? Is it possible to retain the character and grandeur of such a home while also making it a practical place for a 21st century family to live, play and grow?

That was the challenge that faced a team of UNCG Interior Architecture students who were tasked with reinterpreting Woodlawn for the needs of today's families. Led by Professor Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, this group of young designers accepted the challenge in a juried design competition… and took home first prize.

The competition, All American House, was a collaboration between the National Trust and MADE: In America, a not-for-profit group that promotes American commerce and industry. The program was designed, in part, to showcase U.S. furniture manufacturers, and university design programs were invited to participate in the two-semester project. Sixteen UNCG students took part in the first phase of the project last fall, and seven continued working on the project in the spring, as their extensive design work transitioned from concept to reality.

The UNCG team received top honors for its design of the home's family parlor, and also received a third-place award for its work in the center passage. George Washington University took second place.

The All American House opened April 20, 2013, and will remain open to the public until June 16, 2013. You can read more about the competition and the winners in UNCG Now and in The Washington Post.





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