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Ronald J. Onorato

(b York, June 14, 1716; d New Haven, CT, April 30, 1775).

American architect of English birth. Born to Quaker parents, he probably trained in York with William Etty and his son John Etty. On the latter’s death in 1739, he followed his seafaring elder brother Joseph and became first a mate and then a captain in the transatlantic trade until captured by a French privateer in 1744. He was imprisoned at Louisburg, Nova Scotia, where he secretly copied plans of the fortress and charts of the coastline. Released in early 1745, he passed the copies to William Shirley (1694–1771), Governor of Massachusetts, who then captured Louisburg in June that year. Harrison settled in Newport, RI, and in 1746 married Elizabeth Pelham (1721–84), a kinswoman of Shirley’s wife, which secured his social position. Harrison had two advantages in the colonies: first-hand knowledge of English architecture and a unique library. His library was impressive for the American colonies and included works by Abraham Swan and Isaac Ware, James Gibbs’s pattern books, several treatises on the art of building, and drawings and books by Robert Morris, Sébastien Leclerc (i), Edward Hoppus and William Salmon covering ancient architecture, ornament, Palladio and contemporary English architecture. These resources, coupled with surveying, cartography, engineering and carpentry skills, established Harrison’s reputation as a learned architect, an important consideration for Colonial patrons who sought to keep up with their English cultural heritage, and many buildings have been attributed to him....


David Rose

(b Devonshire, 1809; d Kingston, Ont., March 27, 1869).

Canadian architect of English birth. After training as a carpenter in Devonshire and a builder in London, he went to Kingston, Ontario, c. 1832. He worked on the Palladian-style court-house (1837–9; destr.) in Belleville by Thomas Rogers (c. 1780–1853), shaping four large tree trunks into Ionic columns for the portico. Returning to England in 1840, probably to acquire further training, Horsey was back in Kingston one year later listed as Architect, Civil Engineer and Master Builder and profitably engaged in building and selling terrace houses and single dwellings. For his family, Horsey built Elizabeth Cottage (c. 1843), 251 Brock Street, Kingston, an Early Gothic Revival residence, as a replica of the Horsey family manor house in Sherborne, Dorset. In 1848 Horsey succeeded William Hugh Coverdale as architect of the Provincial Penitentiary in Kingston. He continued Coverdale’s general classical scheme for the prison and designed a dome for the main building (rebuilt ...


Frederick D. Nichols

(b Shadwell, VA, April 13, 1743; d Monticello, VA, July 4, 1826).

American statesman and architect. One of the great founding fathers of the American nation, he was a self-taught and influential architect whose work was influenced by his first-hand experience of French architecture and his admiration for Classical architecture. ‘Architecture is my delight, and putting up and pulling down one of my favorite amusements’, he is reputed to have said. His major works are his own house, Monticello, VA, the State Capitol at Richmond, VA, and his innovative designs for the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He also conducted one of the earliest systematic archaeological investigations of a Native North American site, excavating a burial mound on his Virginia farm in 1784.

Son of a surveyor working in Virginia, he went on his father’s death to stay with his cousins at Tuckahoe, an early 18th-century plantation still existing on the lower James River. The H-shaped house had ingenious dome-shaped plaster ceilings in the office and schoolroom, possibly an influence on his later work. While a student at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, in ...


William L. Beiswanger

House in Albemarle Co., near Charlottesville, VA, designed and later remodelled by Thomas Jefferson for his own use (see fig.). Although Jefferson continued to work on the house for more than 40 years, there were two main building programmes, in 1770–84 and 1796–1809. Jefferson began designing the house in 1768, mainly using for his guide the 1742 edition of The Architecture of A. Palladio (London, 1715–20) by James Leoni. This first version of the house superimposed the Ionic and Doric orders for the porticos that fronted the three-bay central block on the entrance and garden façades. Around 1777 the first changes were made, with the addition of octagonal bows to the wings and garden front of the central block. Jefferson used his hilltop site to advantage to conceal the service wings (planned in the 1770s but built during the remodelling in modified form after 1800). He reversed the usual Palladian scheme, where the wings flank an entrance court, by placing the wings behind the house and setting them into the side of the hill. The roofs are transformed into terrace walkways connected to the main floor of the house and serve both as extensions for the house and as landscape elements....