Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson, Architect --The Interactive Portfolio-- by Chuck Wills

Those of you who follow this blog and the evolution of Merriman Park know that I am a huge admirer of Thomas Jefferson's architectural legacy and that my own Merriman Park is a bit of an homage to him. So I was thrilled to pick up this book the other day.  This gorgeous tome details Jefferson's most famous works, including his residences, Monticello and Poplar Forest as well as the University of Virginia and the Virginia State Capital.  I had hoped to see a chapter on the homes he designed for his neighboring friends (Edgemont and Barboursville in particlar).  But alas, these lesser-known works are left out.

As this is The Interactive Portfolio, the book comes with copies of some of Jefferson's original drawings, all stored in vellum envelopes.  The sketches are printed on faux crumbling parchment, which is just a tad cheesy, (and reminded me of my pirate treasure map-making days as a boy, when I used to concoct messages made of tea-stained paper with burned edges, stuffed into one of mother's cast-off wine bottles and tossed into the sky-blue waters of Lake Minnetonka --the irony of  pirates sailing into Minnesota somehow escaping me). 

But I digress.

Thanks to this book, I now have two or three plans for future dollhouses.  Everything is there: moldings, trim --just waiting to be built. 

I was a little disappointed at first that the chapter on Poplar Forest showed that eight-sided gem (the first octagonal house in America) with its roof in its unrestored state.  But as I already have books on Poplar Forest detailing its restoration, I am happy to have a record of it in "before" mode.  I saw in a magazine that  they recently repainted the dining room of Monticello in a very intense (but historically accurate) chrome-yellow, and this edition shows the older, and dare I say the more preferable "wedgewood blue" scheme.

Thomas Jefferson, Architect --The Interactive Portfolio--  is a must-have for fans of one of our country's Founding Fathers and for devotes of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century architecture. 


Cassandra said...[Reply]

Oh, I love you! Plans for more dollhouses! You have fallen in with the rest of the lunatics and cannot stop at just one - even one as elaborate and fine as Merriman Park!

I just love it! It is a perfect insanity that keeps us going.