The Thomas Jefferson Connection

By June 1, 2019Uncategorized

We find it’s fun to discover new historical connections in our writing. Maybe you’ll enjoy this latest revelation of ours.

During our recent trip to Virginia we toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. In his study we saw an open book with a detailed illustration of a Greek column, shown in the photo. Among all the other artifacts, somehow this book looked familiar.

As we completed the extended house tour, it dawned on us. These might be pages from Antiquities of Athens, written in 1762 by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, who spent years in Athens documenting the remaining structures of ancient Greece.

What made this so special for us? Stuart and Revett’s book served as the basic “pattern book” for the Greek Revival style of architecture that became so popular in mid-19thcentury America. In our book, Greek Revival in America, we researched the style because our house, recognized as an excellent example of a Greek Revival residence, was based on the Temple of Artemis Agrotera illustrated their book.

We thought to ourselves: Did Thomas Jefferson use the same book as a resource for Monticello? Back in our hotel room, we opened our laptop and googled “Thomas Jefferson Stuart Revett” and found Jefferson had given the very same book by Stuart and Revett to his head carpenter, James Dinsmore!

This provided sufficient evidence to conclude that Jefferson referred to the same “pattern book” for the design of Monticello as was used for our house. Such is the fun of architectural history.

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