A Roman temple in France - a Capitol building in Virginia

by Jay May. 20, 2012 6013 views

I saw the beautiful posting of the Maison Carrée by Idalmau from yesterday, and I was struck by its beauty. However, there is more to the story than that!

In the second half of the 18th century, the first American ambassador to France, a man known by the name of Mr. Thomas Jefferson, took a tour of the beautiful country in which he was to serve the young U.S. goverment. On this tour, he went to Nîmes in the south of France, where he came upon a beautiful temple known as the Maison Carrée. It dates back to Roman times.

Mr. Jefferson, born in Virginia, author of the United States Declaration of Independence, later to be one of the first governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and then third president of the United States, liked the temple so much that he commissioned a model to be made and sent back to RIchmond, the new capital of Virginia.

He instructed that this model be used to construct the new capitol building in Richmond (where I was born). The former royal capital of Williamsburg was too far to the east.

The building was completed in 1788 and has been the seat of Virginia's state government since that time. Every school child in Virginia knows the origins of our capitol building of which we are most proud. The original model that Mr. Jefferson sent from France in the 1780s can still be seen on display in the capitol building even today.

On a design note: the original structure in France has Corinthian columns, whereas the Virginia capital has Ionic columns. Of course, the capitol building required windows which the Maison Carrée does not have.

From France to Virginia

La Maison Carrée - (Ildamau) [photoblog.com]

(Some of these photos have been posted before)

The capitol building of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Constructed by Mr. Thomas Jefferson in 1788.

View of Richmond (and the tall bank building in which I held my first real job a lifetime ago): the wing of the capitol added later to house the Virginia House of Delegates. The twin wing on the other side houses the State Senate (not in the picture).

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Pandka 5 years ago

Pure elegance! I like it!

5 years ago Edited
Lluã­S Dalmau 5 years ago

It is amazing to get the opportunity to learn how the paths of history flows on time and space and link cities so far. I'm glad I started that exchange of knowledge.

I would like to visit this wonderful reply next time I visit the states.

Thanks for sharing these photos and your wide knowledge of american history. I'd been very rewarding for me.

5 years ago Edited
Maz 5 years ago

Very interesting!

5 years ago Edited
Christa 5 years ago

This is mostly interesting, I didn't know this and am learning :))
Impressive building!

5 years ago Edited
Geya Besse Junqueira 5 years ago

Very interesting and this photos are beautifully taken

5 years ago Edited
Rachel Mvm 5 years ago

Wow, thanks for the great info, especially that trivia about the columns. I admire august architectures such as this but I always wish I knew more about them.

5 years ago Edited
Bryan 5 years ago

You are educating and entertaining with your stories and photos, nicely done:)

5 years ago Edited
Larry Sample 5 years ago

Great post! And yet the French take such abuse here in the U.S. Tsk, tsk.

5 years ago Edited
Antonio Gil 5 years ago

Thanks a lot for the interesting story of that great building.

5 years ago Edited
Eiram 5 years ago

Very beautiful! No wonder you are proud!

5 years ago Edited
Inawe 5 years ago

Ha! I had no idea. Learned something again. Thank you! :)

5 years ago Edited
Claire 5 years ago

it's a beautiful place !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 years ago Edited
Karman 5 years ago

So beautiful, such majesty. It is wonderful that Virginia has ensured the beauty remains for over 200 years. Absolutely beautiful.

5 years ago Edited
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