The University of Virginia is the heart of Charlottesville. It sprawls out on the western edge of the town, with a huge campus and plenty of Palladian architecture.
The university is a UNESCO World Heritage Site- in fact, it is the only university in North America with that honor. That designation has much to do with its founding- Thomas Jefferson started this university as the first secular institution of higher learning in the newly founded United States. The architecture of the school is stunning and the grounds are well maintained. The highlight is undoubtedly the Lawn, a grassy, terraced lawn that stretches from Old Cabell Hall to the Rotunda. Views of Carter Mountain abound from the grounds.
Old Cabell Hall, at the southern end of the Lawn, has an extensive mural in its atrium that is very worth checking out.ww
The University of Virginia is regarded (as of 2011) as one of the United States' top public universities.
“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth.”
—Thomas Jeffersion (1743-1826) from his 1781 ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’
Clearly there was fine laboring in the earth to produce the wonderful trees on the campus of the University of Virginia, including a magnolia (see photo #5), past its prime flower-bearing season but still able to offer one last large blossom.
“I am closing the last scene of my life by fashioning and fostering an establishment for the instruction of those who come after us. I hope that its influence on their virtue, freedom, fame and happiness will be salutary and permanent.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Jefferson is talking about the University of Virginia. There are a number of sculptural monuments to the usual suspects on the college’s original campus, the Rotunda and the Lawn. Jefferson and Washington are well represented.
A 1913 bronze casting of George Washington (see photo #4) used as its model the 1788 marble portrait by Jean Antoine Houdon (the original is now in the Louvre) is about five feet high on a 3-foot base. This likeness of the Father of His Country faces the Lawn.
Directly across the Lawn from George Washington stands Karl Bitter’s 1915 bronze of Thomas Jefferson (see photo #3). It is little over four feet tall on a four-foot base. The quote above is inscribed on the base.
Standing in the Upper Entrance Hall, a life-size likeness of Thomas Jefferson (see photo #1) was sculpted by Alexander Galt, a Norfolk, VA native. When it was unveiled, guest of honor Mary Randolph, Jefferson’s granddaughter, exclaimed it was the best likeness she had ever seen of her grandfather.
Completed in 1861, the statue once stood in the Dome Room. Students removed it from its three-foot marble pedestal during the 1895 fire. Ropes were used to lower the statue onto a library table, which collapsed. Next, the students used a mattress as a sled to move the statue down the west staircase and out the front door as the Rotunda was engulfed in flames. No harm came to the statue.
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
The oculus (see photos #2 & #5) of the Dome Room, set up for an evening function when we toured the Rotunda, is glassed in, unlike its model in Rome.
The fifth architectural order, known as the Composite order (see photos #4), was used for the dome room columns when it was renovated in the early 1970s.
“This institution of my native State, the hobby of my old age, will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation.”
— Thomas Jefferson
Free guided tours are offered of the Rotunda’s interior. These tours are conducted by U of V students; ours was a personable architectural student.
The Oval Rooms, on either side of the Entrance Hall, are decorated with some important pieces.
The portrait (see photo #1) over the mantel was painted in 1816 by Bass Otis; it shows Jefferson in his study at Monticello. It is informally known as the “Spaghetti Portrait” because of the curve of Jefferson’s arm.
A Duncan Pfeiff sofa (see photo #3), upholstered in green, was a gift; it came with the stipulation that no one was ever to sit on it!
I like the lighting figures (see photo #4) in both of these Oval Rooms.
“Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto the inhabitants thereof.”
— the inscription on the Thomas Jefferson Monument, from Leviticus XX, IV
RING MY BELL Standing on the street side of the University of Virginia’s Rotunda in Charlottesville, the Thomas Jefferson Monument was designed by Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel and dedicated in 1910. This bronze tribute measures eight feet tall on a nine-foot tall base.
Jefferson stands atop the Liberty Bell (before it cracked) holding his Declaration of Independence. Surrounding the bell are allegorical winged figures of Liberty (see photo #2); Human Freedom (see photo #3); Justice (see photo #4); and Religious Freedom (see photo #5).
Founding the University of Virginia was among Jefferson’s fondest dreams realized. Along with authoring the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom, it is the accomplishment he listed on his gravesite marker.
“Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Stretching out before the Rotunda, the Lawn at the University of Virginia is an integral part of Jefferson’s original plan for his dream school that would “enlighten the people.”
Ten pavilions, five on either side of the Lawn, provided space for classrooms on the lower level and professor residences on the upper level.
Each pavilion’s design is unique, but each using the Classical Greek and Roman architectural vocabulary of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders.
“To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.”
— Thomas Jefferson
A STRONG MIND Being a half-scale model of the Pantheon, the Rotunda at the University of Viginia is the third Jefferson-related building based on that glorious Ancient Roman building that we would see on our All-American Vacation. The first was the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC; and the second was Jefferson’s beloved Monticello, also in Charlottesville.
The Rotunda and the buildings that stretch out on either side of the Lawn made up the University of Virginia when Jefferson established the school. In March 1825, Jefferson’s ‘academical village’ opened to serve its first 123 students. Each Sunday, U of V students, Edgar Allan Poe among them, were Jefferson’s dinner guests at Monticello.
Originally the Rotunda served as the school’s library. That building is not this building, because faulty electric wiring in 1895 caused the original to catch fire destroying all but the outer rounds walls.
Stanford White, the White in McKim, Mead, and White, the best-known American architectural firm, rebuilt the Rotunda following the fire. His interpretation gave the university a Beaux Arts version of Jefferson’s plan. This design served students until 1973 when the school’s own professor of architecture, Frederick D. Nichols, restored the Rotunda to what Jefferson had originally designed.
The beautiful campus was very expansive. There seemed to be a steady stream of traffic, we took the free trolly shuttle & it took us through the campus.
Later we walked onto the campus & were impressed by the Jeffersonian architecture. The shops & courtyards were filled with students enjoying the beautiful spring day. In 1826, Jefferson designed the Rotunda based on the Roman Pantheon. We walked into the Rotunda building but we couldn't go inside as there was a class.
On his tombstone, Thomas Jefferson listed his three proudest accomplishments. One was the founding of this university. The cornerstone was laid on October 6, 1817, in the presence of Presidents Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. The first students were admitted in 1825. One of them was Edgar Allan Poe.
The heart of the University is the Academical Village, designed by Jefferson himself. This is now a UN World Heritage site. The famous Rotunda is one similar to the dome at Monticello, but much larger. It was inspired by the Roman Pantheon. The inside is open the the public during daytime hours.
The University of Virginia is one of the most historic colleges in the United States. It was founded by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s as one of the first secular universities in the country. Its centerpiece is the Lawn, a complex of buildings that mixes classrooms with housing for students and professors. Jefferson planned the Lawn as an Academic Village, where living and learning were combined. Today, UVa, as the university is commonly known, is oner of the top-ranked universities in the United States. Its schools of law and business are especially well known.
the university of viginia was founded by thomas jefferson . as an architect he was responsible for the colonial design of the major buildings on campus. for those who are interested in early american architecture the campus of the university of virginia is a wonderful place to visit. a must see site when visiting charlottesville.
Thomas Jefferson designed the University of Virginia as an "Academic Village" where daily life and learning intermingled. Classrooms and dormitory rooms would share the same buildings, professors would live on campus, and the main building would be a library. Construction began in 1817 and the first class entered in 1825. Throughout the years, the university has expanded and become of the best public schools in the country. Perhaps its most famous student was Edgar Allen Poe who spent only one semester here.
The University of Virginia (UVA) established by Thomas Jefferson in 1824 is the only North American college or university designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The university is notable in U.S. history for being the first to offer academic specializations in areas now common, such as astronomy, architecture and philosophy, as well as being the first to separate church and education. Its School of Engineering and Applied Science is the oldest engineering school in the United States associated with a university.
The Rotunda building which houses offices and is used for ceremonial occasions is the landmark of UVA and a must-see in Charlottesville. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in 1822 and was completed in 1826 at a cost of $60,000. The Rotunda served as the library for more than a century.
The University of Virginia, UVa, is the first place you have to go if you're visiting C'ville.
The heart of the Academy Village is The Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson, close to it go for a walk down the Lawn that is framed on either side by the Pavilions where University students live.