Clerisseau, Charles-Louis Jefferson, Thomas Architects/Virginia State Capitol Building Commission/1817-1851. The original design for the Capitol was prepared by French architect Charles Louis Lebrun (1756-1841). After Lebrun died, his partner Thomas Jefferson revised the plan and directed that the new structure be built. The capitol was completed in 1847 after several delays caused by wars with Britain and Mexico and a financial crisis. It replaced the old Capitol on the same site.
Thomas Jefferson's architectural proclamation of independence from Great Britain was the Virginia State Capitol. Since 1788, its neoclassical architecture has impacted public buildings throughout America. The capitol was also home to some of the most important events in American history: it was here that Americans approved the Constitution and Bill of Rights; it was here that lawmakers declared slavery illegal in Virginia; and it was here that officials re-elected Thomas Jefferson as president.
The current Virginia State Capitol is an impressive structure on a hill just outside of Richmond. It was built between 1816 and 1829 in Greek Revival style. The original design included a large number of rooms for legislators and their staff, but only the Senate Chamber is still used for its intended purpose. The other spaces are occupied by private businesses or government agencies. In addition, there are several other buildings on the property that are also used for official purposes. The entire complex is owned by the state government, but it is the Capitol that draws visitors.
The area around the Capitol was originally wooded land with houses, shops, and offices. But when the new state house was being constructed, many trees were cut down and taken away. Only two years after the opening of the Capitol, the city of Richmond went bankrupt.
Late in 1786, the plaster model for Virginia's Capitol arrived in Richmond. Along with Clerisseau's sketches of his design, Jefferson wanted to produce "models of the front and side... in plaister of Paris." The actual building was not completed until after Jefferson's death, in 1826.
Jefferson designed the Capitol under the direction of James Hoban, the Irish architect who had also designed Washington, D.C.'s Capitol. Construction on the actual building began in 1792 and was not finished until seven years later. The capitol's interior was decorated by Jefferson's friends and colleagues from the French government, including Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Michel Beaupuy. They created over 1000 pieces of art work for the capitol, many of which still exist today.
The Virginia General Assembly bought land near the town of Williamsburg and hired Hoban to design a state capital there. The first legislative session was scheduled for October 1788, but because there were no buildings available, they met in churches around Virginia instead. When construction on the new capital started in 1790, Thomas Jefferson was involved in the planning stages and is said to have drawn up plans for the main building. However, he didn't get to see it built because he died in 1826 before it was complete.
The Virginia State Capitol was inspired by the Maison Carree, an old Roman temple in Nimes, France. Public Domain Photographer Jefferson requested that a 1:60 scale model be sent back to Richmond. The original plaster model is still on display at the Virginia State Capitol.
Jefferson also designed another important government building for Virginia: the University of Virginia. The UVA campus contains many beautiful buildings, but it is best known for its architecture. Thomas Jefferson is considered the father of modern architecture because of his design for the university.
Thomas Jefferson also had an influence on American city planning and urban development. He proposed a plan for Washington, D.C., which included wide streets with trees lining both sides. This was different from London, where streets were only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time.
In addition, Jefferson suggested that cities should have open spaces within their boundaries. This is why Washington, D.C., has plenty of parks and Charlottesville has several preserved historic districts.
When Jefferson died in 1826, he was buried next to the University of Virginia. His family wanted people to know how much he loved science and art so they had monuments built in his memory. One monument shows him sitting at a desk with books lying around it. It is believed this is what Jefferson would have wanted because he was a reader who loved history and politics.