Year of Palladio

Jeffersonian Palladian

Apart from the university, Jefferson strongly advocated Palladian villas as models for the homes of Virginiaís gentry. This predilection was exhibited in his own designs for houses for his friends, such as that for Barboursville, home of his friend, Governor James Barbour, now a ruin _. Barboursville was intended to have a dome similar to Monticelloís. Jeffersonís infatuation with domes induced him to design what would have been this countryís most striking example of a Jeffersonian Palladian house. In 1792 he anonymously submitted in competition a proposal for the Presidentís House in Washington _(Figure 55). The scheme was closely modeled on Palladioís Villa Rotunda, as illustrated in the Leoni edition _. Jefferson put his own stamp on the design by calling for glass panels between the dome ribs to light the central space. The winning entry, of course, was James Hobanís scheme, for what we now know as the White House. Not to be outdone, in 1803 Jefferson worked with Robert Mills on the design of yet another rotunda house. Mills, who was serving Jefferson as a draftsman, produced ink-and-wash renderings for the elevation, section, and plans of a domed dwelling. Regrettably, this bold proposal remained primarily an exercise _(Figure 57).

Probably, the purest of all Jeffersonian Palladian houses, Bremo, was not designed by Jefferson but by his principal builder James Neilson, who mastered the Palladian idiom while working at both Monticello and the University of Virginia. Neilson worked up the design in collaboration with Bremoís owner, John Hartwell Cocke, Jeffersonís close friend. Bremo follows the Palladian five-part scheme, with a central monumental dwelling fronted by a columned loggia. Flanking it are long low hyphens that originally sheltered farm equipment in the manner of the barchese, or low service wings, of Palladian villas. These are connected to porticoed end pavilions housing additional service areas. Bremoís Tuscan portico on the opposite front is reminiscent of the Villa Emo _. Cocke became so intrigued with the Palladian theme that he even built his version of a Palladian-style barn at Bremo, also fronted by a rustic Tuscan portico _(Figure 60). Bremo remains but one of many Jeffersonian-Palladian houses and other building types designed and built by the builders who had for Jefferson and learned his style.

Figure 54
Figure 54
Figure 55
Figure 55
Figure 56
Figure 56
Figure 57
Figure 57
Figure 58
Figure 58
Figure 59
Figure 59
Figure 60
Figure 60

The University of Virginia | Jeffersonian Palladian | The Four Books: Book Four

Download PDF | Back to Index | Back to Essays