March 1, 2013 | We picture Monticello when we think of Thomas Jefferson. What does it mean to us today, and how has its meaning shifted over time? As Jefferson-statesman, farmer, scientist, bibliophile, politician, and architect-helped to forge a new country based on new ideals, his plantation in Virginia's gentle piedmont became his architectural crucible.
The Palladio-inspired Monticello has long occupied a monumental place in the American mind. It "shines alone in this secluded spot," the Marquis de Chastellux observed on his 1782 visit. We remember our first visits to the mountaintop, recalling the great clock powered by cannonball-like weights in the hall, the dramatic dome, the underground passage, and the white-columned porticos. Much has changed and is changing, all to more accurately reveal the Monticello known by Jefferson rather than the Monticello we carry in our minds, reinforced by the Jefferson nickels in our pockets.
Constant historical study and modern analytical restor…» More
October 18, 2011 | Down a paved road lined with double rows of Black Heart cherry trees stands Gunston Hall, the elegant yet practical residence built by the celebrated statesman and fourth-generation Virginian George Mason (1725-1792).
Completed in 1759 after four years of construction, the estate’s Georgian façade and animated interiors were designed and executed by two highly skilled English indentured servants, architect William Buckland (1734-1774) and carver and designer William Bernard Sears (d. 1818). The design was conceived as a two-story structure with north and south porches and formal and vegetable gardens on what was once 5,500 acres of tobacco and corn fields. Buckland had been trained in the architectural style of Palladio, which is clearly evident at Gunston Hall. Yet the novice architect, who had just completed his apprenticeship prior to working for Mason, took his training to a new level by merging the established neoclassical style with rococo, Gothic, and chinoiserie el…» More
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All