Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the Shadows of Monticello

Thomas Jefferson's Home is Part of His Story

Monticello, as painted in the Hampton Inn murals by Bob Kirchman and Russ Fisher. The enigmatic dome replaced an earlier full upper story as Jefferson restyled the house.

Myron Magnet has written a series of written portraits of our founding fathers that are significant in that they paint them neither as demigods or demons, but as actual men. That is what they were, ordinary mortals who found themselves at a crossroads of history.

Our founders were men with human weakness and human passion. Thomas Jefferson [click to read] as revealed by Magnet in City Journal is no exception.

Most instructive is Magnet's study of the beliefs and principles that guided Jefferson. Ideals and realities in conflict, to be sure. Jefferson's final great work was to be his University of Virginia... architecturally a study in the pure classical forms. He laid out his 'Academical Village' to reflect an order and vision for an educated Virginia population. The first students would prove to be another lesson in human nature. Still Jefferson began this institution with great optimism. This experiment in the Enlightenment idea of mankind's perfectibility was the crowning achievement of his 'retirement' years.

"But as an intellectual enterprise, the university proved less satisfactory to its creator when it opened the year before he died. The students turned out to be not so much an aristocracy of virtue and talent as a gang of rowdy young men with a taste for drink, gambling, breaking windows, firing guns into the air, and thrashing professors who tried to stop them. The horrified Jefferson came down from his mountain to Charlottesville to reprimand them. Flanked by his dear friends and fellow trustees, James Madison and James Monroe, the frail 82-year-old patriarch drew himself up to his full six foot two, began to speak, and burst into tears." -- Myron Magnet.

My rendering of the Monticello Visitor's Center. designed by Ayers Saint Gross. The rendering by The Kirchman Studio was used for promotion and development purposes. We are pleased to have had a small part in this great project.

No comments: