#NC-01220-ED - Notecards
#PR-01220-ED - Open Edition Print
Rotunda, which stands majestically at the north end of a long,
terraced green space known as the Lawn, was designed by Thomas
Jefferson as the architectural and academic heart of the University
of Virginia. Jefferson, who died on July 4, 1826, did not live
to see the completion of the Rotunda, the last building of his
academical village to be finished.
the 1850s, the University commissioned Robert Mills to build an
annex onto the north side of the Rotunda. A fire caused by faulty
electrical wiring broke out in the annex on October 27, 1895,
and spread rapidly to the adjoining Rotunda, leaving only an empty
brick shell. Alexander Galts life-size statue of Thomas
Jefferson was courageously rescued by students during the fire,
along with books, portraits and other valuables. The statue now
stands in the upper entrance hall.
renowned New York architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, was
retained to rebuild the structure. Stanford White, the projects
principal architect, made alterations that departed significantly
from Jeffersons plan, including the addition of a north
portico and wings for offices.
to restore the Rotunda to Jeffersons original design was
begun in 1973. The restored Rotunda was dedicated on April 13,
1976, the date of the U.S. Bicentennial and the 233rd anniversary
of Jeffersons birth. Today, the Rotunda appears essentially
as it did when it was built.
© 1995 Dianne Harrah, Drawing © 1995 Bill Harrah.