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date: 18 February 2020


  • 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....

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