of the Construction of the Buildings
at the University of Virginia, 1817-1828
Frank Edgar Grizzard, Jr.
105. James Patton Preston, Appointment of Commissioners to Choose a Site for the
University of Virginia, 18 March 1818, DLC:JM. Preston enclosed the commission
in an unfound letter to James Madison of the same date (see Madison to Preston, 19
May 1818, in Vi: Executive Papers).
106. See Richard Beale Davis, Intellectual Life in Jefferson's Virginia, 1790-1830,
62-69. Davis called Jefferson's educational venture a "cooperative intellectual
enterprise to which many Virginians contributed."
107. Appleton to TJ, 20 December 1817, DLC:TJ.
108. TJ to Appleton, 4 April 1818, DLC:TJ.
109. TJ to Hollins, 5 April 1818, DLC:TJ.
110. See Appleton to TJ, 26 August, 1818, in DLC:TJ.
111. TJ to Latrobe, 19 May 1818, DLC:TJ.
112. TJ to Latrobe, 19 May 1818, DLC:TJ. House of Delegates and Board of
Visitor member David Watson of Louisa also looked forward to the Central College
being chosen as the site for the new university. "I am really sorry that it is out of my
power to attend [the spring Board of Visitors meeting]," Watson wrote to his
brother-in-law Peter Minor of Ridgeway on 10 May, "for I am anxious to see the
visitors, & know what's the prospect, & what's to be done, about turning the Central
College into the University of Virga., which I think with good management, & the
help of three presidents, may be done" (ViU: Watson Family Papers).
113. Undated interview with John Lewis, Shane Historical Collection, vol. 13, 116-17 [314-15], WiHi: Draper
Collection. "The University was a great political
movement," Lewis continued. "It was designed to provide an institution for the
whole South and South-west, and thus, to prevent that patronage from going to the
north. To train up a democratic party, under the influence of education. There was
no hostility to William and Mary. But here was a definite end. It was necessary, in
order to attain it, to go up from the low-lands--which were unhealthy, and which
were forsaken at a given period of the year by all the wealthy--who were able to
leave. It was necessary to go up into the mountains. It was moreover more central."
Lewis also claimed that Jefferson at the same time read a letter in his presence from
John Adams "telling him of a report--that he had gotten the declaration of
Independence from the Mecklenburg resolutions." For Adams' duplicity with
Jefferson regarding the Mecklenburg document, see Ellis, Passionate Sage: The
Character and Legacy of John Adams, 121.
114. Larkin notes that during this period in American history, "few used brick and
stone except for German settlers and their descendants" (The Reshaping of Everyday
115. Jaggard, Brickwork and its Construction, 1-3, and The Stonemason and The
116. Mumford, The South in Architecture, 28.
117. Perry to TJ, 18 June 1818, ViU:TJ.
118. Chisholm to Nelson Barksdale, 29 July 1818, ViU:PP. Some material that
has been marked out on the verso of this letter (which also contains Perry's receipt
for $800), in accountant Martin Dawson's writing, indicates that a portion of this
payment was for brickwork completed the previous year, $200 on 25 October and
$300 on 6 November 1817. On 6 July 1819 Perry wrote Jefferson requesting the
ballance of his wages (ViU:TJ).
119. Rockett's Landing was a major wharf on the James River in Richmond in the
vicinity of 31st and Mains streets where "various steamers plying between
Richmond and Norfolk, Fortress Monroe, Baltimore, and New York" arrived and
departed. Robert Rockett operated a ferry there as early as 1730 and tradition has it
that Abe Lincoln walked from Rockett's to the Davis mansion when he visited
Richmond on 5 April 1865. See Weddell, Richmond Virginia in Old Prints, 190,
216, and Lutz, A Richmond Album, 70, 82. Jefferson's former farm manager
Edmund Bacon recalled in an interview given in Kentucky during the Civil War that
Milton "was the head of navigation for bateaux. A great deal of flour, grain, and
other produce was brought from the western part of the state and shipped there, the
wagons carrying back groceries and other things that the bateaux had brought from
Richmond. This and other business employed a good many families. Nearly all the
families in Milton were supplied with firewood from Mr. Jefferson's estate" (Bear,
Jefferson at Monticello, 80).
120. TJ to Peyton, 12 June 1818, ViU:TJ.
121. TJ to Robert Walsh, 20 July 1818, DLC:TJ.
122. For the Rockfish Gap Commission, see the Minutes of the Board of
Commissioners for the University of Virginia, 1-4 August 1818, in Vi., and the
Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, 4 August 1818, in
ViU:TJ; see also Cabell, Early History of the University of Virginia, (appendix I)
432-47; Honeywell, The Educational Work of Thomas Jefferson, (appendix J), 248-60; and Knight, A Documentary History
of Education in the South Before 1860,
3:162-78. The attending members unanimously elected Jefferson to preside over the
123. TJ to Barnet, 30 July 1818, DLC:TJ.
124. Patton, Jefferson, Cabell and the University of Virginia, 43, 48-49.
125. Cunningham, In Pursuit of Reason, 339-41.
126. TJ to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 4 August 1818, in Betts and Bear, Family
Letters of Thomas Jefferson, 423-24. Archibald Stuart (1757-1832), who was born
in Waynesboro, studied law under Jefferson following his Revolutionary War
service as an aide-de-camp to Major General Nathanael Greene. At this time Stuart
was judge of the General Court of Virginia for the Augusta district. He built a
mansion on Church Street in Staunton that was later occupied by his son, Judge
Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, an early graduate in law from the university and
President Filmore's Secretary of the Interior in the early 1850s.
127. Cunningham, In Pursuit of Reason, 340.
128. Rockfish Gap Commission Report, 4 August 1818, in Knight, A
Documentary History of Education in the South Before 1860, 163-64; see also
"Extract from the Report of the Commission for the University of Virginia,
assembled at Rockfish Gap, in the County of Augusta, August 1, 1818," in Cabell,
Letter and Accompanying Documents Relative to Literary Institutions of the State:
Addressed to His Constituents (Richmond, 1825), in ViU:JCC.
129. TJ to Cooper, 7 August 1818, DLC:TJ. When the Central College was
superseded by the University of Virginia the new Board of Visitors elected Cooper
to a profesorship of chemistry, mineralogy, natural philosophy, and law, to begin in
April 1820. The postponement of the opening of the university because of a lack of
funds, combined with the "storm of clerical protest" against Cooper's unorthodox
religious views, eventually led to a revocation of Cooper's appointment (Malone,
Jefferson and His Time: The Sage of Monticello, 366-69, 376-80).
130. John Hartwell Cocke, Diary, 26 August 1818, ViU:JHC. The waters at
Warm Springs did not have the therapeutic value that Jefferson hoped for. "I
returned from the warm springs a few days, in prostrated health, from the use of the
waters," he wrote to Thomas Cooper on 12 September, "their effect, and the journey
back reduced me to the last stage of exhaustion; but I am recovering. . . . the steady
progress of my convalescence assures my being well . . . I cannot yet set erect to
write and writing with pain I must do it with brevity" (DLC:TJ). TJ's serious
indisposition following the trip lasted several months; on 8 November he informed
Julien Honoré that "my health is getting better slowly, but I do not venture out of the
house yet" (DLC:TJ). On 6 October TJ described his illness at length in a letter to
Colonel William Alston of Clifton, S.C., whom he met at the springs with an
entourage of "eight other Alstons, big and little" (see Reniers, The Springs of
Virginia, 49). TJ wrote Alston to inform him that he had "made up a box of a
couple of dozen bottles" of French and Italian wine and was sending it to South
Carolina via Bernard Peyton of Richmond: "I became seriously affected afterwards
by the continuance of the use of the waters. they produced imposthume, eruption,
with fever, colliquative sweats and extreme debility. these sufferings, aggravated by
the torment of long & rough roads, reduced me to the lowest stage of exhaustion by
the time I got home. I have been on the recovery some time, & still am so; but not
yet able to sit erect for writing. among my first efforts is that of recalling myself to
your recollection, & of expressing the gratification I derived at the springs from
your acquaintance & society. however little of life may remain for cherishing a
cordiality which it must so soon part with. it will not be the less felt, while feeling
remains, and in the hope that the tour I recommended of the upper & lower valley of
the Blue ridge may give me, the ensuing autumn, the gratification of recieving you
at Monticello, I pray you to accept the assurance of my friendly attachment & high
TJ again described his illness on 5 July 1819 in a letter to Henry A. S. Dearborn
of Boston: "I recieved yesterday your favor of June 24. and am very Sensible of the
interest you so kindly take in my health. the eruptive complaint which came upon
me in Aug. last was unquestionably produced by the bath of the warm springs,
which I tried on account of rheumatism. the cause of the eruption was mistaken,
and it was treated with severe unctions of mercury & sulphur. these reduced me to
death's door, and on ceasing to use them I recovered immediately, and consider my
health as now perfectly re-established, except some small effect on the bowels
produced by these remedies and nearly, altho' not entirely worn off. I am still
thankful for your recipe, and should the eruption return, I shall certainly try it's
effect, in preference to those before tried" (DLC:TJ). For more on TJ's illness, see
his letters of 6 October to Mathew Carey, Julien Honoré, James Breckinridge, and
Joseph Dougherty, his letters of 7 October to John Adams and William F[arley].
Gray; Robert Walsh, Jr., to TJ, 8 November, TJ to David Baillie Warden, 24
November, and TJ to George Ticknor, 24 December 1819, all in DLC:TJ, and ibid.,
54-55. In a letter to John George Jackson of 27 December, TJ pronounced himself
"entirely recovered" in strength and in health: "My trial of the Warm springs was
certainly ill-advised. "for I went to them in perfect health, and ought to have
reflected that remedies of their potency must have effect some way or other. if they
find disease they remove it; if none, they make it" (DLC:TJ). Unfortunately, TJ
became seriously ill twice again during the following year. On 7 November 1819 he
wrote Robert J. Evans "I am just now recovering from the third long & dangerous
illness which I have had within the last 12. months" (DLC:TJ), and on the same date
he wrote John Adams that "Three long and dangerous illnesses within the last 12.
months must apologize for my long silence towards you" (DLC:TJ).
131. Brown to Barksdale, 29 September 1818, ViU:PP.
132. Brown to Barksdale, 19 December, ViU:PP.
133. Perry to the Board of Visitors, 27 March 1819, ViU:TJ.
134. See John M. Perry, Account with James Dinsmore, 18 September 1818 to 10
September 1821, in ViU:PP. The account shows that Perry hauled scantling to
Dinsmore for 29½ days before the end of 1818.
135. TJ to Nathaniel Bowditch, 26 October 1818, DLC:TJ.
136. Bowditch to TJ, 4 November 1818, DLC:TJ.
137. William John Coffee (1774-ca 1846), an oil painter and sculptor who worked
in porcelain, plaster, and terra cotta, emigrated from England to New York City in
1816. The following year Coffee traveled to Monticello to sculpture the busts of
Jefferson and two family members, daughter Martha and granddaughter Ellen, and
in April 1818 he visited James Madison at Montpelier where he won a commission
to model the busts of Madison, his wife Dolly, and her son. After that Coffee made
plaster busts of many other prominent Americans, and with Jefferson's help he made
a southern tour for that purpose in 1821. See Rauschenberg, "William John Coffee,
Sculptor-Painter: His Southern Experience," Journal of Early Southern Decorative
Arts, 4 (November 1978), 26-48, and two unpublished papers loaned to the author
and placed on deposit at the Albemarle County Historical Society by Brian Bricknell
of England, "William John Coffee, 1773-c1846, Modeller, Sculptor, Painter and
Ornamentalist: His Career in America, 1817-c1846," (August 1993), and "William
John Coffee, 1773--c1846, A Brief Review with Emphasis on his Employment by
the Derby Porcelain Factory, (February 1994). Coffee made the composition and
leaden ornaments for all the pavilions and the Rotunda (ViU:PP, Ledgers 1 and 2),
and he apparently made the Bucrania in the freize of the great hall at Estoutesville in
1828. See Lay, "Charlottesville's Architectural Legacy, Magazine of Albemarle
County History, 46:51, Lay, "Jefferson's Master Builders," University of Virginia
Alumni News, 80 (October 1991), 16-19. James Gibson casted plaster ornaments
for the cornices at Pavilion V (ViU:PP, Ledger 1).
138. Coffee to TJ, 7 November 1818, DLC:TJ. Beneath his docket for the letter
Jefferson wrote this memorandum: "the Roman cement is a native production of the
Isle of Thanst. it is an earth impregnated with iron ore, the vitriolic acid &
Manganese. and it is said may be found wherever there is an iron ore."
139. Peter Maverick's engravings of the ground plan of the university show five
cisterns, all of which were located immediately outside the garden walls: one each
behind Pavilions V and VII on the west lawn, and one near the rear of each of the
three hotels on the eastern range (see Guinness and Sadler, Mr. Jefferson, Architect,
136-37, 150, and O'Neal, "Iconography of the Nineteenth-Century Prints of the
University of Virginia," in American Association of Architectural Bibliographers,
Papers VI, 75-80. Other early sources of water included the old reservoir on
Observatory Mountain and two ponds to the northwest of the Rotunda, photographs
of which from the 19th century are in Special Collections, Alderman Library, ViU;
see also O'Neal, Pictorial History of the University of Virginia, 100-101.
140. Appleton to TJ, 10 November 1818, DLC:TJ. Cote briefly discusses the
Raggi brothers' work at the university, in "The Architectural Workmen of Thomas
Jefferson in Virginia," 69-71.
141. ViU:PP, Ledgers 1 and 2. Brooks covered the roofs of Hotels A, B, and C,
all the pavilions except nos. III, V, and VII, and several dormitories, and he covered
the gallery and put up tin pipes at Pavilion III, and installed tin gutters and did minor
tin work at Pavilion V. Brooks received $156.59 for covering Pavilion X, for
example. Jefferson thought Brooks charged too much for the type of work that he
executed (see appendix N). The Proctor's Ledgers show that "Carpenter Sam"
(apparently a slave) also did tin work at Pavilions V and VII, Hotels A, D, and F,
and some of the dormitories, and that Anthony Bargamin of Richmond, who
covered the roof of the Rotunda, installed the gutters at Pavilion III.
142. Dinsmore to TJ, 10 November 1818, ViU:TJ.
143. Dinsmore to TJ, 18 November 1818, ViU:TJ.
144. Randolph to TJ, 14 December 1818, DLC:TJ. David Meade Randolph, Jr.,
was married to Mary (Molly) Mann of Tuckahoe, the sister of Jefferson's son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. Jefferson fired Randolph, a
veteran of the
Revolutionary War and a staunch Federalist, from his position as U.S. Marshal for
Virginia four days after his inauguration as president in 1801, and Randolph
subsequently became involved in the James Calander affair. Bankruptcy soon
followed, and in 1808 Molly Randolph opened a successful boarding house on Cary
Street in Richmond. In 1824 Molly Randolph published the first edition of her
popular cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. See Daniels, Randolphs of Virginia,
130, 149, 193, 196-202, 228, 247-48.
145. TJ to Randolph, 21 December 1818, DLC:TJ.
146. James Dinsmore, Chimney Brick Measure, 20 December 1818, ViU:PP. In
January 1819 Alexander Garrett wrot Jefferson to inform him that Dinsmore had
"heard with regret, that you were dissatisfied with the contract made with, and beg'd
me to assure you, that he would take no advantage of any mistake you may have
made in that contract; that he will be entirely satisfied to work by the printed prices
of the book now sent you, not even insisting on the correction of those by Latrobe"
(Garrett to TJ, 26 January 1819, ViU:TJ).
147. Cosby to TJ, 18 December 1818, ViU:TJ. Cosby came to Charlottesville
with excellent recommendations from some of the leading citizens of Staunton:
Erasmus Stribling called Cosby "one of our most respectable Citizens"; John Waugh
expressed confidence in his honor and integrity; Rockbridge County House of
Delegates representative John Bowyer recommended him in "high terms"; John
Brown said he was a good workman and "sober, attentive, and industrious"; and
Judge Archibald Stuart recommended Cosby as "a man of Industry, Energy & I
believe Capacity & may be relyed on to execute whatever he undertakes . . . for
years past been more extensively employed in his line than any man in This County"
(Stribling to TJ, 6 January, John Waugh to TJ, 7 January, Samuel Carr to TJ, 1
February, John Brown to TJ, 8 February, Archibald Stuart to TJ, 9 March 1819, all
148. Dabney Cosby (1779-1862) was born in Louisa County but moved to
Staunton, Virginia, and by 1820 had married Frances Davenport Tapp; of their
fourteen children two became successful architects. Cosby moved to Buckingham
County in 1824 and to Prince Edward County in 1830, where he remained until
1839 when he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and his work includes Randolph-Macon College (1830), Venable Hall at Hampden-Sydney College
Street Presbyterian Church in Petersburg (1844), the Virginia courthouses of
Buckingham, Goochland, Sussex, Lunenburg, and Halifax counties, and some thirty
buildings in the Raleigh area. See Lay, "Charlottesville's Architectural Legacy,
Magazine of Albemarle County History, 46:50-51. After working alone on the
brickwork at Hotels D and E and eight west range dormitories, Cosby appears to
have cooperated with William B. Phillips in the brickwork for several of the west
range dormitories (ViU:PP, Ledger 1). Part of the period that Cosby worked at the
university is covered in his daybook, located in ViHi and discussed in Cote, "The
Architectural Workmen of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia," 91-100. Cosby's obituary
notice, published in the Raleigh Semi-Weekly Standard on 12 July 1862, says that
Cosby "often spoke of his conversations with that illustrious man [Jefferson], and
the information he received from him in architecture and the art of making brick."
149. See Brown to Barksdale, 19 December, ViU:PP.
150. TJ to Radford & Yancey, 31 December 1818, DLC:TJ.
151. Balance Sheet for the University of Virginia, 1818-1819, ViU:TJ, in TJ's
152. Barksdale and Branham, Security Bond, 15 December 1818, ViU:PP. The
bond bears a docket that reads: "Barksdale to Boxley Feb: 12 '20 $670 Bond for the
hire of Negroes paid 12th Feby 1820 $670." The bond's verso contains two
columns of figures, and Boxley's signed receipt, which reads: "14th Feby 1820
Recvd the withn of Alexr. Garrett Bursar Uy by the hands of Barksdale P. Boxley."
A related receipt in the loose receipts for 1818 in ViU:PP reads: "15 Decr. 1818
This day recvd of N Barksdale Proctor to C College & Ludlow Branham (the sd
Barksdle Security) bond for the hire of Seven Negroes to wit 4 Men 2 Boys & a
woman to the amt of Six hundred & Seventy dollars which Sd Negroes is to be
delieverd to Sd. N Barksdale at the C College in or about the first day of Jany. 1819
& to be returned to Sd Boxly without cloathing Pallison Boxley Test Geo Vest
John Nunn." Ludlow Branham purchased Boswell's Tavern in 1801. Located in
Louisa County at the intersection of Routes 15 and 22, Branham's ordinary
became a notable county landmark because such political figures as Jefferson,
Madison, and Patrick Henry frequently met there during the Revolutionary War;
the Marquis de Lafayette made his headquarters at Boswell's Tavern in 1781
(see Chisholm and Lillie, Old Home Places of Louisa County, 180).