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Jefferson Wanted It This Way: Va. Capitol, at 1/60 Scale

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Make your way down to the Virginia State Capitol to help the lawmakers balance the budget... OK, maybe you can't quite do that. But you can tour the Capitol and catch a glimpse of Jean-Pierre Fouquet’s historic model. 

Commissioned by Thomas Jefferson, the model was brought to Richmond on February 28, 1787. Virginia's General Assembly officially recognized Fouquets 1/60 plaster model to celebrate the 225th anniversary of its arrival in Richmond. Something that old definitely deserves some celebration.
 
More background straight from the General Assembly:



When Jefferson accepted the task of designing for the Commonwealth of Virginia a new State Capitol in Richmond, he was serving as the United States Minister to France in Paris.

His idea for the design, utilizing the classical architectural vocabulary of ancient Greece and Rome and heavily influenced by the Roman-built Maison Carrée located in Nimes, France, was to become the first Classical Revival temple style structure built in America.

While he had employed the considerable talents of the well-respected architectural draftsman Charles-Louis Clerisseau to assist in creating the drawings to be used in construction, Jefferson did not wish to leave anything to chance when it came to realizing his vision for the Capitol.

Knowing that no builder in the United States at that time had ever assisted in building a Classical temple, he commissioned the renowned French model maker Jean-Pierre Fouquet to create a model from which the builders in Richmond would work in constructing the Virginia State Capitol.

 

 
The historic model, which was the working prototype for the State Capitol, is just one of many artifacts on display. Outside, you'll find the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, the first statue on the grounds to include depictions of African Americans and women in prominent roles.
 
With its cornerstone laid in 1785, the Virginia State Capitol (1000 Bank St., Richmond, Va.) is the oldest elected law-making body in the Western Hemisphere. It reopened in 2007 after three years of renovations, with a new visitor center, cafe and gift shop in the underground extension. So invite yourself in to walk along the sweeping, curved staircase lit by the natural light of the skylights surrounding the commonwealth seal. 
 
The Virginia State Capitol is open to visitors Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Guided and self-guided tours are available each day. The governor's mansion also offers tours.

The one question we can't answer? Why it's called the Virginia State Capitol when Virginia likes to refer to itself as a commonwealth.

Related Topics history, virginia
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