of the Construction of the Buildings
at the University of Virginia, 1817-1828
Frank Edgar Grizzard, Jr.
1. Indeed, during America's bicentennial celebration in 1976, the American
Institute of Architects declared Mr. Jefferson's Academical Village "the proudest
achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years." AIA Journal, 65 (July
1976), 91, quoted in Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time: The Sage of
Monticello, (Boston, 1981), xvii. Montgomery Schuyler of the New York Times was
possibly the first to draw attention to the scope of the university in his article "A
History of Old Colonial Architecture," published in the Architectural Record in
1895: "Jefferson's scheme was incomparably the most ambitious and monumental
architectural project that had or has yet been conceived in this century" (4 [January-March 1895], 351-53, quoted in Richard Guy Wilson,
Perceptions, Interpretations, Meanings," in Richard Guy Wilson, ed., Thomas
Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece
[Charlottesville, 1993], 58).
2. Nathaniel Francis Cabell, ed., Early History of the University of Virginia, as
Contained in the Letters of Thomas Jefferson and Joseph C. Cabell . . . with an
Appendix . . . and an Introduction . . . and a Biographical Notice of Joseph C.
Cabell (Richmond, 1856). A half-century later John S. Patton elaborated on
Cabell's theme in Jefferson, Cabell and the University of Virginia (New York,
3. Herbert Baxter Adams, ed., Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia
(Washington, D.C., 1888). The book includes essays by Adams and other writers.
The most complete list of nineteenth-century publications related to the University
of Virginia is "A Bibliography of the History of the University of Virginia," in ibid.,
4. Paul B. Barringer and James Mercer Garnett, eds., University of Virginia: Its
History, Influence, Equipment and Characteristics with Biographical Sketches and
Portraits of Founders, Benefactors, Officers and Alumni, (New York, 1904), 2
5. Philip Alexander Bruce, History of the University of Virginia, 1819-1919:
The Lengthened Shadow of One Man (New York, 1920-22), 5 volumes.
6. Virginus Dabney, Mr. Jefferson's University: A History (Charlottesville,
1981). The writings of Roy John Honeywell, Dumas Malone, and Alf J. Mapp, Jr.,
also fall into the institutional category although Jefferson, and not the university,
was the primary focus of their work. See Roy John Honeywell, The Educational
Work of Thomas Jefferson (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1930); Dumas Malone,
Jefferson and His Time: The Sage of Monticello, (Boston, 1981); and Alf J. Mapp,
Jr., Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim: The Presidency, the Founding of the
University, and the Private Battle (Lanham, Maryland, 1991).
7. See the bibliography for the works by these and the following authors who
have written from the architectural perspective: John Kevan Peebles, Lewis
Mumford, Edwin M. Betts, Bryan Little, Joseph Lee Vaughan and Omer Allan
Gianniny, Jr., David Bell, Mary Woods, Susan D. Riddick, Joseph Michael Lasala,
Patricia C. Sherwood, James Murray Howard, and Charles E. Brownell.
8. William A. Lambeth and Warren H. Manning, Jefferson as an Architect and
Designer of Landscapes (Boston, 1913).
9. Fiske Kimball, Thomas Jefferson, Architect (Boston, 1916); other writings of
Kimball that are relevant in this context include "Thomas Jefferson and the First
Monument of the Classic Revival in America," Journal of the American Institute of
Architects, 3 (September-November 1915), 370-81, 421-33, 473-91; "Thomas
Jefferson and the Origin of the Classical Revival in America," Art and Archaeology,
1 (May 1915), 219-27; "The Genesis of Jefferson's Plan for the University of
Virginia," Architecture, 48 (December 1932), 397-99.
10. Frederick Doveton Nichols, Thomas Jefferson's Architectural Drawings
(Boston and Charlottesville, 1961, 1984); with William B. O'Neal, "An
Architectural History of the First University Pavilion," in The Magazine of
Albemarle County History, 15 (1957), 36-43; with James A. Bear, Jr., Monticello
(Meridan, Connecticut, 1967); "Jefferson: The Making of an Architect," in W. H.
Adams, ed., Jefferson and the Arts: An Extended View (Washington, D.C., 1976);
"Restoring Jefferson's University," in C. E. Peterson, ed., Building Early America
(Philadelphia, 1976); "Jefferson: The Making of an Architect," in W. H. Adams,
ed., Jefferson and the Arts: An Extended View (Washington, D.C., 1976); with
Walter Muir Whitehill, Palladio in America (Milan, 1976); with Ralph E. Griswold,
Thomas Jefferson, Landscape Architect (Charlottesville, 1978); and "Architecture,"
in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography (New York,
11. See Richard Charles Cote, "The Architectural Workmen of Thomas Jefferson
in Virginia," (Boston University, Ph.D. thesis, 1986).
12. K. Edward Lay, "Charlottesville's Architectural Legacy," in The Magazine of
Albemarle County History, 46 (May 1988), 28-95, and Lay's forthcoming An
Architectural History of Albemarle County, Virginia, which documents 3,200
houses built between 1727 and 1939.
13. Richard Guy Wilson, ed., Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The
Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece (Charlottesville, 1993), 46-73; see also
Wilson, with Charles E. Brownell, Calder Loth, William M. S. Rasmussen, The
Making of Virginia Architecture, (Richmond, 1992).
14. Wilson's project, The Architecture of Thomas Jefferson, rests upon the
Standard Generalized Mark-up Language (SGML) and thus is not bound to any
proprietary computer platform or software. The Institute for Advanced
Technologies in the Humanities at the University of Virginia is providing the
technical assistance to produce the database, which can be accessed via the World-Wide Web at: http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/wilson/
15. See O'Neal's Jefferson's Fine Arts Library: His Selections for the University
of Virginia Together with His Own Architectural Books (Charlottesville, 1976).
16. O'Neal, Jefferson's Buildings at the University of Virginia: The Rotunda
(Charlottesville, 1960); "The Workmen at the University of Virginia, 1817-1826:
With Notes and Documents," The Magazine of Albemarle County History, 17
(1958-1959), 5-48; "Michele and Giacomo Raggi at the University of Virginia:
With Notes and Documents," ibid., 18 (1959-1960), 5-31; "Financing the
Construction of the University of Virginia: Notes and Documents," ibid., 23
(1964-1965), 4-34. For some of O'Neal's other works, which fall more into the
architectural camp, see the bibliography.
17. While Jefferson in his old age lived during an era when life for most people
typically resembled that of previous generations, it is also true that the men and
women of that period lived near the end of a long evolutionary phase in western
history that had slowly prepared the way for more dramatic changes in the practical
arts, changes that would in another century culminate in the modern technological
society that we are more familiar with (see Carl Lounsbury's introduction to An
Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape [New York,
18. Water-powered saw mills, for instance, were only beginning to find their way
into the Virginia Piedmont; hence much of the hundreds of thousands (if not
millions) of feet of raw lumber used in the building of the university was sawed by
hand, in a pit-saw, by two-men crews. It was dirty, hard, time-consuming work.
Wages for workmen were always low, and for slaves lower still (see appendix B).