The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia
K. Edward Lay
The architectural significance of Albemarle County and Charlottesville rests on the continuing influence of Thomas Jefferson and his artistic achievements in his native county and elsewhere: the Richmond Capitol, his home Monticello, his Bedford County retreat Poplar Forest, and the University of Virginia. It is further supported by the many examples of Jeffersonian classicism later constructed by his master builders within the county's borders as well as beyond them. Still later, examples of other architectural idioms were built here--some were important works by nationally renowned architects. At the turn of the twentieth century, the renewed interest of wealthy clients in eclectic architectural styles attracted some of the finest Beaux Arts architects in the country to the county. Grand new buildings complemented and competed with the Jeffersonian models of a hundred years earlier. With the establishment of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia in 1919 under Fiske Kimball, "the dean of American architectural history," the institution produced architects trained in historical styles, and many of them practiced locally as well as nationally. Consequently, this book constitutes an unusually rich microcosm of the major national architectural styles as well as the original models upon which they were based.
Lay divides his book into six chronological chapters: "The Georgian Period," "Thomas Jefferson and His Builders," "The Roman Revival (1800-1830)," "The Greek Revival (1830-1860)," "Beyond the Classical Revival," and "The Eclectic Era (1890-1939)." In the 378-page book, he discusses over 800 buildings, from Sears houses to grand estates with 26 color photographs and 369 black-and-white illustrations complementing his text. A final chapter discusses the University of Virginia. Maps of the area allow readers and visitors to trace the locations of individual buildings and to recognize trends of settlement and construction in the area.
CD_ROM no longer available:
Published n 2001 to supplement the hard-bound book of The Architecture of Jefferson Country was a CD-ROM that included the book manuscript along with a comprehensive inventory of 2,409 buildings illustrated with 3,359 images. The records, drawings, and photographs are searchable by building type or characteristic, surname, or other keyword along with an illustrated glossary. As an important bonus, the CD-ROM included the 1907 Massie Map of the county, a large, detailed wall map showing historical data and the locations of buildings. The map was searchable, definitively indexed, and had never been reproduced since its origin.
Even though the manuscript pertains to a specific Virginia county, the impact of the work of Jefferson and his master builders and the work of faculty at the University of Virginia makes it of national interest.
TO ORDER THE BOOK:
University Press of Virginia
Box 3608 University Station, Charlottesville, VA 22903-0608
(www.upress.virginia.edu; Marketing 804-924-6064, <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
$49.95 + shipping and handling + Va sales tax
Also can be purchased twww.amazon.com at 30% discount + handling
Richard Guy Wilson, Chair of UVA Architectural History, TV commentor of America's Castles, author of Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village,The Making of Virginia Architecture, and Buildings of Virginia:
"The Architecture of Jefferson Country is an amazing compendium of research and documentation and a model study of a county's architectural legacy. Albemarle County's architecture mirrors national trends, but also from its soil sprang some of the United States's most refined and historically significant creations and styles. From Thomas Jefferson's important essays at Monticello and the University of Virginia to the sophisticated work of twentieth century Colonial Revivalists, Albemarle County and Charlottesville contain critically important architecture of interest to the entire nation, indeed to the world."
William Seale, author of The President's House:
"I've read Ed Lay's book (I'm glad you sent the footnotes as well) and it is a delight. Not burdened with mere description, it is an architectural history and a history as well. I really enjoyed this book -- great detail. Professor K. Edward Lay gives us not only a splendid county architectural history but a rich and detailed local context for Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia, which he rightly calls 'two of the world's great examples of the building arts'."
Catherine Bishir, author of North Carolina Architecture:
"This is a very informative and handsome book, and I look forward to seeing it in print. In The Architecture of Jefferson Country, Professor Lay draws upon decades of fieldwork and research to provide a detailed portrait of the architectural riches of Albemarle County and Charlottesville. The generous illustrations -- old and new photographs, and drawings of floor plans and architectural features -- demonstrate the quality and diversity of local building from the eighteenth century into the twentieth, with special emphasis on the nineteenth century. Clearly, Monticello and the University of Virginia are stars in a remarkable constellation."
Michael Dennis, MIT, author of Court and Garden:
"Thomas Jefferson is as significant to Charlottesville and the United States as Palladio to Vicenza and Italy. This welcome study expands and deepens our understanding of our most important American architect."
Virginia Quarterly Review:
"This is a definitive and exemplary treatment of a county architectural history. Lay serves up site plans, floor plans, elevations, and lavish illustrations that capture the essence of more than 250 years of architectural evolution in public and private architecture that reflects our national building history. Going beyond Jeffersonian classicism, the wonderful eclectic collection of architecture that peacefully coexists within Jefferson country is revealed. A must for the student of American architectural history."
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians:
"A comprehensive, fully illustrated, well-written, and detailed survey of the area's rich architectural heritage, it makes it obvious that there is a great deal more to see in Virginia's Albemarle County than Monticello and the University of Virginia. It is a lifetime of his own and his University of Virginia students' research. Lay has succeeded in drawing the audience's attention, not away from the monuments that have become cliches of the Albemarle landscape, but to the greater architectural canvas of which they are a part."
"A bounty of images illustrates this work, drawing on a variety of sources including period and contemporary photographs, sketches, field notes, color plates, and architectural drawings. A compilation of these images by themselves would mark a milestone in the documentation of Albemarle County. Attempting an architectural history that embraces a spectrum of structures from a chicken coop to Jefferson's Rotunda at the University of Virginia is an ambitious undertaking. This account of Albemarle County's architectural heritage rises to the challenge, providing an important tool for both the local history enthusiast and the serious scholar of Virginia history. Professor K. Edward Lay gives us not only a splendid county architectural history but a rich and detailed local context for Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia, which he rightly calls 'two of the world's great examples of the building arts'."
UVA Alumni News:
"Grounded in decades of research and field work, the book provides many glimpses of the business of building and gives the reader an unprecedented view of the rich architectural legacy of the piedmont. It is not dryly academic like many scholarly tomes, but has a more intellectual heft than a coffee-table book. Numerous illustrations make it a valuable reference."
Marilyn Casto, Virginia Tech University, in Vernacular Architecture Forum:
"This well-written book provides an excellent overview of Albemarle County's architecture. Given the breath of its subject, it offers a good depiction of building types common to other areas of Virginia. The well-organized format treats the subject topically [and] offers the background social, economic, and political environments in which the structures existed. His book, drawn from his own extensive files on the county's architecture, specifically discusses over 800 buildings from a database of around 2300. [It] offers a fine example of the breath of building that once existed in a small area and a reminder that many small communities have experienced a considerable quantity of architectural history extending well beyond famous buildings and equally worthy of investigation."
Send E-Mail to K. Edward Lay.
Last Modified: 3 October 2012