David Watson Writes a Memorandum Criticizing Thomas Jeffersons Designs for the University of Virginia, 1819

[David Watson, Memorandum, 18 March 1819, Watson Family Papers, Miscellaneous Memoranda, MSS 530, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library:]

1819 Mar: 18th. About the 1st inst: I was at the site of the University of Virga. The hands (negros) were then engaged in leveling the ground. Two pavillions (as Mr.Jefferson calls them) are raised & covered in, with an extensive range of dormitories between them, intended to be covered with flat roofs--The site is beautiful; but the buildings appear to me to [be] too small. The pavillions, two stories high, are not sufficiently roomy for the convenient accommodation of a genteel family, & no plan yet of attaching gardens or back grounds to them. The dormitories are to small for convenience, & being on a level with the street in front, & a fine footway, under the projection of the terrace or flat roof of dormitories, will be too publick for study. I saw no convenient place for keeping wood, & the plan of erecting boarding houses was not decided on, & appeared to me to [be] attended with many difficulties. The lod[g]ings for the students being all on the ground, will require the buildings to be spread over too extensive a Surfice, & so much roof in proportion to the room, will be very expensive--The lowness of the windows in the dormitories, will re[n]der the rooms both publick & unsafe….

Last updated: January 16, 2020

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