Architecture

ARCHITECTURE in Virginia started with 'two faire rows' of houses built between 1611 and 1615 at Jamestown and three 'streets' at the city of Henrico, for the first settlers built merely shacks or huts.

According to Ralph Hamer, secretary of the colony at the time, the Jamestown houses were 'all of framed Timber, two stories and an upper Garrett, or Corne loft, high.' More particular description there is none; but mention is made of 'three large and substantial Store Howses joyned togeather of the defenses, 'newly and strongly impaled,' and of 'some very pleasant and beautiful howses . . . without the towns.'

We have a hint of the outward aspect of Virginia's two most considerable communities when the colony was less than ten years old and learn, incidentally, that already the Virginians were building 'pleasantly and beautifully' in the open country. So they have preferred to do ever since.

Sir Thomas Dale and Sir Thomas Gates seem to have been responsible for this construction. Gates brought with him from England not only smiths and carpenters but also bricklayers and brickmakers. Though the brick church at Jamestown, of which only the ruined tower now survives, was not begun until 039, it is possible that a brick church was built at Henrico.as some reports have it.before the Indian massacre of 1622. If so, nothing is left of it. The Indian onslaught completely wiped out the settlement below the falls of the James and narrowly missed extinguishing the colony.

The log cabin was unknown in Virginia, as in England, at this date, and for many years afterwards. The roofed pen of logs was a contrivance of Scandinavian origin and did not establish itself on this continent until the Swedes brought it over to Delaware. Once it was introduced, diffusion of the type was inevitable, peculiarly adapted as it was to rough.and.ready shelter in a rude country of forests.

In any case, the earliest Virginia construction for lodging purposes that can be dignified with the name is the frame house of the rows at Jamestown. The most familiar aspect of Virginia villages, even today, is such rows of frame houses. No Virginia frame house of the first half of the seventeenth century has survived, and very few are left that can be authenticated as belonging to the latter half. But the fashion of building these houses, adapted from contemporary English models, persisted all through the eighteenth and well into the nineteenth century.

The prototype essentially was the English timber cottage, with wooden weatherboarding applied to the frame over all, although in the old country the common practice was to let plaster or other filling serve as outer covering. Since the older surviving frame houses in Virginia are filled in with plaster or brick nogging and the weatherboard is an added protection (as the name itself implies), it is reasonable to suppose that the first Virginia builders, having an abundance of wood, which was very scarce in England, used this method in the beginning, and that the frame house, covered only with boards, was a later development.

The typical form of the Virginia frame house, examples of which are still scattered over the Tidewater and Piedmont sections, is a house one room deep and two rooms wide, or two rooms and a passage wide. This house has a gable roof of steep pitch, which nowadays usually has dormers to light the upper half.story. But in the primitive form, the dormers were probably lacking. The roof may still (perhaps under a modern sheathing of tin) be covered with shingles, which presently usurped the place of the thatch commonly used in England.

If the house has two rooms, separated by a 'passage'- passage is the correct word and 'hall' a pretentious intrusion, involving the misuse of a word correct in its proper place.we find, as a rule, massive chimneys at each end with the chimney stacks standing free of the building above the half.story fireplace. As the family increased, another unit of the same pattern was often set L.fashion at the back with another outside chimney. Or the original unit was extended lengthwise beyond the chimney at one end or both, often with roofs of lower pitch on the additions, omitting the dormers, which by that time had become standard.

Much less often there are two stories under the steep roof, in which case lower dormered wings may extend from both ends. That, however, came later. It suggests the influence of the Georgian principle of symmetrical arrangement.a main block with flanking pavilions.which reached the colony early in the eighteenth century. This is characteristically expressed in the brick houses of that century, such as Westover (1730).

Not essentially different in design from the typical frame house and still Gothic is the simplest type of seventeenth.century brick house. This is illustrated in a number of houses still, or until recently, extant. The Thoroughgood House in Princess Anne County and Winona in Northampton county, both probably built before 1650, follow the one.room deep plan with steep gabled roof and dormers (added later to the Thoroughgood House). More elaborate were Bacon's Castle or Allen's Brick House in Surry County and Fairfield, the Burwell seat in Gloucester County, the latter fortunately photographed before its destruction in 1900. Each presents an unmistakable Tudor aspect, with clustered chimney stacks; and the first has curved and stepped gables on the main section and a closed porch on one long side and a stair tower on the other.

Nothing is left today but the foundations of the colony's manor house, Green Spring, where Sir William Berkeley maintained a gaol.still standing.for political offenders and common malefactors alike. Before it was pulled down after the Revolution sketches of the house were made by William Ludwell Lee of the Stratford family. It is known, therefore, that Green Spring likewise revealed Tudor or Gothic elements, including a steeply pitched roof with dormers.

Both Green Spring and Bacon's Castle were certainly built before Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, for the hot.headed young Nathaniel Bacon, leader of the rebels, used the governor's country house as his headquarters for his siege of Jamestown, and Allen's Brick House sheltered some of his followers.

It is broadly true, as Fiske Kimball pointed out many years ago, that American Colonial architecture was chiefly dependent upon the architectural development in England. Our seventeenth.century expression in wood was primarily an adaptation to local materials and conditions, and it produced an unmistakable American type, both in Virginia and in New England. Variations in the type up and down the Atlantic Coast, creating a recognizable Virginia architecture and an equally recognizable New England architecture, were owing largely to differences in climatic conditions and habits of living.

The style of building that was brought over by the first settlers, both in Virginia and in New England, was already old.fashioned in the old country. The changes made in it over here, while the type held, did not reflect changes going on across the water. They were made in America to suit conditions in various regions, while the general way of building persisted in the heads of workmen transplanted from England along with the original model. Not until the eighteenth century was well into its second quarter were the English architects' books (rising in flood tide at home) brought to America where the new English fashion in architecture captured the imagination of the colonists.

These folios spread abroad the elegant Renaissance mode that began with Inigo Jones, before Charles I walked out of Jones's own White Hall to the scaffold. This mode received magnificent illustration in churches and public buildings at the hands of Christopher Wren, right on from the second Charles's time to that of the dull Hanoverian Georges. Curiously, however, it does not seem to have been in general use for gentlemen's private houses, even in England, until the reign of William and Mary, or thereabouts.

Most of Virginia's extant English Renaissance, or so.called Georgian, houses were built after 1720, and it is difficult not to assume that the way they were built was much affected by the public buildings in Williamsburg, which rose up under William and Mary, Anne, and the first George.

Middle Plantation (now Williamsburg) had taken the place of Jamestown as the capital of the colony only in 1699. It had been appointed as the site for the College of William and Mary in 1693. From a wayside village, boasting a church and a few houses, Middle Plantation, between the James and the York Rivers, had to be made over into a seat of government and of learning. The latest fashions in polite urban buildings were available for an entire setup. This elegant new mode was used and thus was handsomely advertised throughout His Britannic Majesty's Old Dominion.

Every person of condition in the colony attended upon the general court or the house of burgesses and saw what Governor Alexander Spotswood and his associates had wrought. Not until the Williamsburg public buildings were restored in the image of the originals was it possible for this generation to measure their influence in their own time and on the generation that saw them built. Without the restoration that influence might have gone almost unsuspected. With the restoration the evidence is in plain view. The Wren Building at the College of William and Mary and the reconstructed Governor's Palace and the capitol exhibit the special characteristics of English Renaissance architecture that became the hall mark of Virginia's Georgian style.

Westover, its builder a member of the council while Spotswood was governor, is obviously like the Governor's Palace, the construction of which had been begun in 1705 and completed under Spotswood's supervision. Colonel William Byrd's seat, to be sure, is larger.it is a country house, not a town lodging. It may well be that Byrd, an accomplished and traveled person, used as his principal guide in designing his mansion another architect's book and gathered hints, besides, from fashionable houses he had seen and admired in England. But the essential pattern is the same.

Built about the same time as Westover, Christ Church in Lancaster County, near Robert Carter's vanished seat Corotoman, employs an the characteristic Williamsburg elements. So does Colonel Thomas Lee's Stratford Hall (1727.30) in Westmoreland County, though a pair of quadruple chimneys, linked with arches into the semblance of towers, furnishes the dominant accent of the Lee house.

Ampthill, in Chesterfield County, was the seat of Archibald Cary, whose father and grandfather were both directly and practically concerned in the construction of the Williamsburg public buildings. It seems to have started life (completed in 1732) as a long house, a single room deep on each side of a passage after the seventeenth.century fashion. But as it stands, transplanted to the other side of the James, it has grown into the newer foursquare style, two rooms deep, with the passage sweeping through from back to front in the manner already noted as a Virginia specialty.one not borrowed from common practice in England, but climatically acquired.

Carter's Grove, in James City County, built in 1751 by Carter Burwell, resembled, before its roof was lifted a few years ago, Ampthill rather than Westover. It gave less effect of height than either Westover or any Williamsburg model a few miles away .including Brafferton Hall (17 23) and the President's House (173 2) at the college.

But the characteristic elements are there, and the basic pattern holds both for main house and dependencies, which in all these cases were lower flanking buildings, originally unconnected with the main mass but later usually joined on by what the Marylanders call 'hyphens.' The interior of the first floor was usually paneled to the ceiling with pine, painted white. Stratford, however, which has a true 'hall,' uses the paneling there only. Often, as at Carter's Grove and at Brandon, a Harrison seat on the James, the paneling is elaborated with pilasters in the classic order.

Rosewell, in Gloucester County, through the building of which two generations of Pages beggared themselves, is now a fire.gutted shell. It outdid the Governor's Palace, not only in ground extent and the number of stories, but in count of cupolas, for it had two. But it followed the palace fashion, in the manner of the brickwork.Flemish bond and random.glazed headers (neither used at Ampthill) with rubbed brick for trim .and in the orderly arrangment of dependencies.

At Rosewell, as in Christ Church and at Westover, stone and brick are combined in the decoration but used sparingly. Houses built wholly of stone are unusual, since the Tidewater lacked that material, and are of later date. Outstanding examples are Mount Airy in Richmond County, built by Colonel John Tayloe in 1758, and Prestwould in Mecklenburg, built by Sir William Skipwith about the same time.

As the typical Virginia plantation house of the eighteenth century sat in the midst of broad acres of plowed field, pasture, and woodland, remote from neighbors, so the typical Virginia church of that century was the crossroads church, set by itself in a field or a wood, at a point convenient to a group of plantations that covered a great stretch of country. The difference was that the 'big' house was revealed among gardens, lawns, and groves, and framed in outlying buildings.set in order to right and left, or flanking a curved forecourt, as at Mount Vernon, or defining a court at the back, as at Shirley on the James. But the sunlight, which dappled the mellow red brick walls and the gray shingled. roof with the shadows of the trees in the churchyard, fell only on the church and the tombstones, parading their coats of arms and the names and titles of dead parishioners. There was not even a rectory in sight. The rector of the parish was provided with a glebe.a lesser plantation.and with indentured servants and slaves.

The Brick Church in Isle of Wight County (named St.Luke's after the Revolution), probably the oldest extant church building in the original thirteen colonies, comprises a rude square tower at the west end and a nave with Gothic buttresses and brick.mullioned windows, including a great window lighting the chancel at the east end. It has suffered damage and restoration, but these features seem to have belonged to the original structure.7he tower at Jamestown.all that is left of the fifth church, begun in 1639.is likewise of brick and unmistakably Gothic.

St.Peter's, New Kent County, the main part of which was built in 1701o3, is a quadrangular, high.gabled block, with a square tower (174o) and crude corner finials, set on a Norman arched porch. Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, called the 'Court' Church, was the first Virginia church to be built under the influence of the new fashions. It was erected in 17 1015 under Governor Spotswood's supervision. The handsome square tower, however, was not set in front of the original cruciform structure until a generation later.

Christ Church, Alexandria, where Washington had a pew and where the Mount Vernon coach, all green and gold with four horses, used to set down the general and his lady of a Sunday morning, was begun in 1767 and completed in 1772. It has a tower topped by Wrenish pepperpots that was added as late as 1818. St.John's, Richmond, where Patrick Henry cried out for liberty or death, is one of the few surviving wooden churches of the regular Anglican establishment. It goes back to 1741, or not long after Colonel Byrd founded the city at the falls of the James. St.John's tall wooden tower, also crowned with Wrenish pepperpots, did not exist when Patrick Henry poured out his burning eloquence upon the Virginia Convention in 1775. The characteristic Virginia church was the crossroads church.as it continues to be even today, to a very considerable extent.

Virginia's Colonial churches, of which about 50 survive, fall into six general groups: (i) those with small naves and huge towers (1630.1700); (2) middle.colonial type with rectangular plan and steeply pitched gabled roof (1690.I740); (3) T.shaped buildings with three sharp end.gables (1700.60); (4) regular cruciform type with gabled roof (1710.50); (5) Greek.cruciform type with all four transepts equal (1730.70); and (6) late.colonial Wren quadrangular type with hipped roof (1760.76).

Requirements of the interior chiefly determined the shape of the building, the main object being to have the communicants close to the pulpit. This problem was solved finally with the creation of the late, nearly square Wren block, when the pulpit was placed at the center against a side wall.

Among churches of each group are minor variations. Two buildings of the first period, St.Luke's and Jamestown, differ from their fellows by reason of their Gothic buttresses. The earliest of the second period, represented by Merchant's Hope in Prince George County, had a swag roof. Characteristics of this the largest group, of which Old Church in King and Queen County is also a representative, are compass windows and the door in the south wall near the east end. Churches of all groups except the first have galleries, and the groups af ter the second generally have pedimented doors of rubbed and carved brick. In a few instances the pediments are of stone. The oldest T.church, Yeocomico (I 7o6) in Westmoreland County, has irregularly spaced windows and, as originally, a swag roof. Among later representatives are Vauter's in Essex County, St.John's in King William, and Blandford in Petersburg. The regular cruciforms, except Bruton Parish Church, had no tower during the Colonial period, whether in rural or urban areas. St.John's in Hampton and Mattapony in King and Queen County belong to this group. Greek.cruciform. buildings, with a door in north, west, and south ends and all.round cornice, divide themselves into two subtypes.(a) those with gabled roof and single tier of windows, such as North Farnham in Richmond County and Abingdon in Gloucester, and (b) those with hipped roof and two tiers of windows, represented by Aquia Church in Stafford County and St.Paul's in King George. Aquia Church (1757), with quoining of stone, differs from others of its type because of the tower above its front transept. Here again is an instance of a tower in a strictly rural section. The late Wren blocks with hipped roofs fall into two subgroups.(a) with single tier of tall compass windows, represented by Lamb's Creek in King George County and Payne's Church (now destroyed) in Fairfax, and (b) with two tiers, square.headed below and round.arched above, as shown in Pohick in Fairfax County. This type, except in the case of Christ Church in Alexandria, has a door at the center of the south wall, with the main entrance at the west end. Every Colonial church stands due east and west.

Even before the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown ended for practical purposes the War for Independence, Thomas Jefferson had started to make over the architecture of Virginia. He did not like what is known as 'Georgian' architecture. He was bored by it, as was Sir Christopher Wren in his time by the Gothic. When the master of Monticello followed Patrick Henry as governor, he drew a plan (which was never executed) for remodeling the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg in the semblance of a classic temple with a portico. The new capitol in Richmond he modeled after the Roman temple at Nimes known as the Maison Carree. And the style of architecture called Early Republican, distinguished to the common eye by tall columns and pedimented porticos, though it derives through the sixteenth.century Italian Palladio from its original Greco-Roman sources, is principally, as an American expression, the child of Jefferson's ardent fancy.

The architects, professional and amateur, native and foreign, whom he proselyted and with whom he collaborated, included Stephen Hallet ('The first approved professional among us'), Benjamin Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch, William Thornton.all of whom worked on the Capitol in Washington.and Robert Mills, who had two years under the master's own eye as student and draftsman at Monticello. All these spread the new gospel over the country in the form of buildings in classic style. In Virginia, it was Jefferson who built all the houses with stately porticos that crown the river bluffs and the hilltops from the Chesapeake to the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond. Even if somebody else drew the plans, still Jefferson was the real builder. Monticello, the University of Virginia, Bremo, and his home of refuge, Poplar Forest.these, to be sure, are directly the works of the master's hand and attest authentically his title as Virginia's architect paramount. But all those other houses in Virginia that were built new with porticos and pediments or had their Georgian fronts 'lifted' by means of porticos and pediments.from Jefferson's time almost up to the War between the States.also stand as witnesses to clinch the title.

A house of dignity in the Old Dominion was Jeffersonian or nothing. The change came about the more easily because the deep Tidewater-where the statelier family seats of eighteenth.century vintage clustered, and where they still linger as patches of orange.brickcolor among their trees and overgrown gardens.was left aside by the movement of population westward to the hills. That movement Jefferson himself had led. He had pegged it down by shifting the seat of government from Williamsburg to Richmond and by building the University of Virginia.the crowning achievement of his old age.

Much more might be written about Jeffersonian architecture in its rural setting; for example, of the Greek Revival stage that owed its primary local impulse to that capitol of his on its acropolis above the James.notwithstanding that the model temple itself is classed as Roman. This was the phase that produced Berry Hill (see Tour 11 b), with the Parthenon for inspiration, and encouraged the practice of covering clean red brick with stucco in imitation of stone.

Much might be written also about Virginia architecture as it developed in the cities, when cities began to grow to a size that gave them urban character. In all the older towns are distinctly urban and urbane types of red brick houses with Georgian fronts and cornices, with a lurking seventeenth.century suggestion in the steeply.pitched roofs and gables. Especially there are the houses that Robert Mills built, in which the red brick is usually covered with stucco.

Monumental Church, standing with its dome in Broad Street, Richmond, solemnly commemorates the great theater fire of 1811 that cost the lives of the governor of the commonwealth and 70.odd besides. That church is the monument, as well, of Robert Mills, who is best known as the architect of the great colonnade of the Treasury in Washington and of the Washington monuments in Washington and Baltimore.

Best of all Mills's works in Virginia are the stuccoed houses of the I 820'S and 1830's that faced upon the streets of Richmond with plain fronts, except for modest Doric or Ionic framed doorways or small entrance porches in the same styles. Very sober town houses they looked. But, at the back, where the land sloped toward the river and the walled garden dropped its terraces, was the tall columned portico, with hanging balconies clinging to the backs of the columns to leave clean the upward sweep of the shafts to the roof. Thus, as one walked through the hall (no longer a mere passage) from the front door to the back door, the city house of formal dignity turned into a country house with a large gracious air and a sense of comfortable seclusion.

The house of John Wickham, who defended Aaron Burr, survives as the Valentine Museum in Richmond and is little changed. It serves as a reminder of how proficient Mills was in this manner, though he was content, in this instance, to use a one.story portico across the side.bayed garden front, which today looks out on the same walled garden. The White House of the Confederacy, so called, or the Jefferson Davis Mansion, not far away also survives. This house, which Mills built for Dr.John Brockenbrough, retains both the sedate and urban front on the street and the lofty portico at the back. But an attic story has been piled on top, and the garden is so crammed that much of the original effect is lost.

It is not too much to say that the architecture of Virginia, as a distinctive thing, perished with Virginia's own great builder and at that builder's own hands. For Jefferson made his Palladian architecture not Virginian only, but National. Houses in this manner, generally speaking, sprang up all over the country, bigger, if not better, than the Virginia houses. This was true, especially in the new States west of the Alleghenies, whither men from the seaboard States moved with their families and gear and set up on a grand scale on large tracts of land, received often as public grants in recognition of services in the Revolution.

Building in Virginia has tended since the middle of the nineteenth century or earlier to follow the current American fashion in building and to match very closely in any given period the run of the mill in the rest of the country.

Virginia felt as early as the 1820'S the first wave of the Gothic Revival from England.exemplified in General John Hartwell Cocke's lodge, Recess, close to and almost contemporaneous with his classic seat, Bremo in Fluvanna County, mainly planned by Jefferson himself. Virginia caught the subsequent fever engendered by Sir Walter Scott's romances, suffered the irruption of mock medieval designs, dressed up in jigsaw scrollwork and jimcrackery, which we identify as the Victorian Gothic. It fell a victim to the jerry.building plague that swept in from the railroad shack towns of the fast.moving West. It did not escape the rage for the Second French Empire baroque, which in the late 1860's and 1870's possessed the land in the vulgarized and brutalized version now called the General Grant Style. It succumbed to the fad of patchwork quilt polychromy trailing after the introduction by Richardson of the Romanesque style into American architecture. Sham fronts faced with a checkerwork of roughhewn green and brown stones insulted with their presence the proudest of the dim-shaded streets in the larger towns. Poverty, which the War between the States left in its wake, saved the smaller towns and villages from a like desecration, and enabled them to escape that architectural plague only to be devastated later by the universal bungalow blight.

Even when people were not seduced by the new idols and tried to build in the old tradition, the quality was almost certain to be lost. For the fine art of brickwork had fallen into neglect, and the sturdy craft of carpentry was being crowded out by millwork. Proportions perished; design was forgotten. Flattened tin roofs reduced to vulgar insignificance the once gracious, if small and simple, Virginia home, set back from the high road in the grove of trees in the country or tucked in its white.fenced yard along the village street.

Better times brought better buildings. They brought also the eclectic taste, the hodgepodge of styles that the American Beaux Arts architects, fresh from Paris, dumped upon their defenseless stay.at.home fellow citizens. Virginia built like the rest of the country, and the fashionable new suburbs of her cities became, as everywhere else, samplers of the past styles of every country but our own.

The range was from Richardsonian Romanesque derivatives, with massive rough walls, heavy arches, and round excrescences like stone tents, through the regular Italian palace and French chateau effects to Elizabethan manors, some of which were copied, others imported like Virginia House in Richmond, formerly Sulgrave Manor.

Tobacco built the houses of the eighteenth.century Virginia nabobs. Tobacco likewise built most of these new mansions in assorted exotic styles, and some of them were.and are.very handsome, even if they have nothing to do with Virginia architecture as such. 'A refreshing, if entirely alien, note arrived in Richmond in the 1890's with the Jefferson Hotel, a vision of old Seville conjured up by Carrere and Hastings, just back from setting up Spanish scenery for the Florida winter.resort stage. With terrace, arches, fountain court, and towers, and a dress of creamcolored brick and terracotta, it looks across Franklin Street at the classic portico of Peter Mayo's big square gray house and is not one whit abashed.

Another building fashion swept the whole Nation, indirectly starting the movement that within the last two decades has restored Virginia's own architecture to favor with Virginians and awakened pride in the local tradition. This pride, in turn has created the current very active revival of building consciously, and even determinedly, in the old manner. The return tidal wave of the classic that swept the country after the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 had, with its dramatic Roman.holiday scenery, fired the imagination of an American people peculiarly susceptible at the moment to expressions of magnificence and illusions of grandeur. Virginia went in enthusiastically for the architectural stuff of which the White City beside Lake Michigan was made. A new crop of porticos and pediments grew up.

Meantime, however, Stanford White had come down to the University of Virginia to restore Jefferson's Rotunda, which had been wrecked by fire in 1895. From this building, an adaptation of the Pantheon in Rome, the inspiration came to White and his partner, Charles F. McKim (who had already started an American Colonial revival, based on a study of old houses in New England), to create after the same Pantheon model the libraries of Columbia and New York Universities.

Thus the dazzling light of the new White City, or fin de siecle fashion, caused the rediscovery of the forgotten man, Thomas Jefferson, the Architect.for 50 years among his own people completely lost in the magnitude of the political fame of Jefferson, Father of Democracy. Those red brick buildings with their white columns framing the Lawn at Jefferson's university, those old porticoed houses scattered about the countryside and entangled in local traditions as tenacious as the ivy that mantled their walls .these buildings were, it appeared, not merely venerable relics of an old time and an extinct fashion. In them was embodied a Virginia achievement as distinguished as any other of her contributions to the sound beginnings of the American union of States. Very soon the new porticoed and pedimented houses began to look more like the native old houses and less like the latest imported models advertised in Chicago. The red brick of a country based on one of the reddest of red clay beds in the world gained favor over the alien pale stone of the new classic fashion.

It was rather blind groping at first, so completely had knowledge of the older architectural traditions faded out in a half century sliced off from its past by the sword of a destructive war. Actually the distinction had been lost between the true Colonial.the so.called American Georgian or adapted English Renaissance of the eighteenth century.and the Palladian.Jeffersonian, which Fiske Kimball named Early Republican.

Indeed, the Virginians, like the rest of the country a generation ago, habitually called the revived Jeffersonian style Colonial when they did not call it Southern.

Since the outstanding monuments of the Jeffersonian vintage were still in active use.as the capitol and university buildings.and since many of the upcountry plantation mansions, including Monticello itself, have escaped serious damage, the volunteer salvage corps concentrated their attention on the neglected Tidewater.and thus rediscovered the true Colonial, almost by accident. In this field, the process of pious restoration by private hands and through patriotic organizations.in which the women have taken the lead.has set going surveys and investigations by architects and antiquarians, the sum of which has created for the first time a body of dependable knowledge covering Virginia's building methods and styles as far back as the last quarter of the seventeenth century.

The return of Virginia to its own version of the architecture that came from England has been encouraged.as it has been made possible on a solid basis of authenticity.by the recreation of the Colonial capital at Williamsburg, financed by John D. Rockefeller,Jr. and carried out with extraordinary care and completeness. As we have seen, the originals launched the fashion in which the finest and most distinctive Virginia houses and churches were built.at least, before Mr. Jefferson came along. So that it is only reasonable that the restoration should have potent effect on today's revival of that style.

The vertical fashion of skyscrapers, which America invented and developed as its principal contribution to the most compendious of the arts, has not missed the larger Virginia cities. But it expresses itself here, as everywhere, in standard skyscraper patterns. The rival horizontal fashion, which exploits shining metal and glass, the professedly international style, has made little headway in Virginia.

The Valley of the Shenandoah.the river called Euphrates by Colonel Spotswood's Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.was settled by two main streams of migration. One went over the mountain from the Piedmont and the Tidewater and took with it its accustomed manner of living and building.the Virginia manner of the period of migration. The other stream.much the more important numerically and made up largely of Ulstermen (usually called Scotch.Irish in Virginia) and of Germans-came down into the Valley from the North, chiefly through Pennsylvania. They brought with them the architecture that is distinguished as the Pennsylvania.Dutch type, with its solid foursquare houses of stone.the natural building material of a mountainous country.

The two types (west and east) are essentially the same in stylistic derivation, according to date. Either they show characteristics of the Medieval or Gothic.like the steep.roofed, narrow.gabled house of Virginia's architectural beginnings.or they follow Renaissance block patterns and are adapted to the local material of which they are built, the use to which they are put, and the climatic and other conditions of living that they serve.

An example is Augusta Church, built between I 740 and 1750, a solid foursquare structure with walls laid in stones of odd shapes after a manner characteristic of Pennsylvania stone houses and churches of the first half of the eighteenth century. Topping it is a steep roof, having the gables, clipped off diagonally half.way.the so.called jerkin.head roof, although, as a matter of fact, the same style of roof is used in the deep Tidewater in houses built before 17 50.

The original Valley counties, Augusta and Frederick, were not created until 1738 and not organized until some years later. Augusta Church is therefore not merely a characteristic piece of Valley of Virginia architecture but probably the oldest surviving example of the type of architecture that may be said to be peculiarly the Valley's own.

In general, the architecture that is Virginia's own, in right of happy adaptation to her countryside and the manners, custom, and genius of her people, is of two types.

First is the Colonial, derived directly from English models: Early Colonial, built on the still lingering Medieval pattern of the seventeenth century common usage in the homeland; and Late Colonial following the Renaissance mode as interpreted by English architects of that century and made the new fashion of building for persons of distinction through most of the century succeeding.

Second is the Jeffersonian, which was artfully taken from Palladio's bag of tricks but which received a stamp that makes it both distinctive and distinguished. Houses in Virginia have still an unmistakable Virginia character, no matter how obvious the derivation. They carry the conviction of belonging to the country as surely as the clay and wood of which they are composed and the field and forest in which they are framed.

BACK | FORWARD