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Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture

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Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When Thomas Jefferson was born, there were few high-style buildings in America, but in a lifetime full of political accomplishments, he also became the father of Americas new architecture, enabling the Neoclassical to become the de facto national style for public and private buildings. However, in a strange lapse of historical memory, Jeffersons accomplishments were almost entirely forgotten by the time Kimball arrived on the scene almost a century later.

Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson is a moment-by-moment narrative of the men who created the profession of architecture in America, and Fiske Kimball is the spokesman: As the pioneering writer, scholar, and museum director who first assembled their stories, he takes us along in the surprising paper chase that eventually revealed Jeffersons architectural genius. Along the way, we also learn his story of dramatic discoveries and his founding of the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.

Hugh Howard's numerous books include the definitive Thomas Jefferson, Architect; his memoir House-Dreams; the essay collection The Preservationists Progress; and an introduction to the architecture of Williamsburg, Colonial Houses. He resides in upstate New York with his wife, writer Elizabeth Lawrence, and their two teenage daughters.
When Thomas Jefferson was born, there were few high-style buildings in America, but in a lifetime full of political accomplishments, he also became the father of Americas new architecture, enabling the Neoclassical to become the de facto national style for public and private buildings. However, in a strange lapse of historical memory, Jeffersons accomplishments were almost entirely forgotten by the time Kimball arrived on the scene almost a century later.
 
Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson is a moment-by-moment narrative of the men who created the profession of architecture in America, and Fiske Kimball is the spokesman: As the pioneering writer, scholar, and museum director who first assembled their stories, he takes us along in the surprising paper chase that eventually revealed Jeffersons architectural genius. Along the way, we also learn his story of dramatic discoveries and his founding of the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.
"Howard argues convincingly that Kimball and Jefferson were the Boswell and Johnson of American architecture. Their conversation managed to leap over two centuries of separation and establish, for the first time, the origins of an indigenous American architectural style. And speaking of style, this book truly has it."Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of Founding Brothers, American Sphinx and His Excellency
"Howard argues convincingly that Kimball and Jefferson were the Boswell and Johnson of American architecture. Their conversation managed to leap over two centuries of separation and establish, for the first time, the origins of an indigenous American architectural style. And speaking of style, this book truly has it."Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of Founding Brothers, American Sphinx and His Excellency
 
"Interwoven stories of America's earliest architects and prodigious scholar Dr. Fiske Kimball (1888-1955), who devoted his career to discovering, restoring and preserving their work . . . Howard begins by sketching the early career of Kimball, who in 1914 discovered a vast cache of Jefferson's architectural drawings, a finding that led to his first book. Howard eventually takes us through Kimball's entire career (ending with his notable and ultimately contentious 30-year tenure as the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), periodically interrupting with substantial segments about the lives and accomplishments of America's first builders and architects, most notably William Buckland, John Trumbull, Charles Bulfinch, Benjamin Latrobe, Samuel McIntyre and Robert Mills. Some of these—especially McIntyre and Mills—are names not well-known to the general public, and Howard does a stellar job of telling their human and professional stories. The author includes numerous reproductions of early architectural drawings and, for the most part, lets us know the fates of the structures he discusses. His account of the glorious but long-gone Derby mansion in Salem will make readers wish a preservationist spirit had prevailed in 1815, the year workmen razed the building. Howard's vast research enables him to explore the connections (not always amiable) among these men (Mills, for example, met them all). He also explores the social and political forces that often affect the design and placement of public buildings. Howard's discussion of the controversies about the Jefferson Memorial is especially clear and comprehensive. The star here is Kimball, who upstages even Jefferson, emerging as a towering figure in American architecture and architectural scholarship."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Thomas Jefferson is revered first and foremost as the 'Apostle of Liberty,' who authored our most sacred document, the Declaration of Independence. Any visit to Monticello or the University of Virginia campus confirms Jefferson's skill and aesthetic vision as an architect. Jefferson's accomplishments in that field were relatively obscure until the early twentieth century, when a young architect, Fiske Kimball, aided by his wife, extensively examined Jefferson's letters, rough sketches, and designs. Howard, who has previously written works on Jefferson's career and on colonial architecture, effectively combines the elements of narrative history and detective story. He tells his story by working forward in time, recounting Jefferson's achievements, and backward in time, uncovering those achievements. Howard asserts that Jefferson transformed American architecture from a building craft to an art form. Howard avoids reliance on technical jargon, so this work will have value for Jefferson enthusiasts as well as students of architectural history."—Jay Freeman, Booklist
 
"As the architect of Monticello and the University of Virginia, among other masterful buildings, Thomas Jefferson is widely considered by contemporary academics to be the most skillful practitioner of early American architecture. In his new retelling, Howard argues persuasively that were it not for Dr. Fiske Kimball, a 20th-century scholar and historian who researched his architectural heritage, we might still think of Jefferson as primarily, and exclusively, a talented statesman. This is not an exhaustive biography—Howard has already written a definitive one on this subject. It's more like a one-act play that alternates between scenes set in Jefferson's late 18th century and Kimball's early 20th century, when he investigates numerous archives. We browse through Jefferson's library, peek over his shoulder as he writes letters and watch him sketch the European buildings that inspire him. Howard's narrative is particularly compelling as he takes us through the decades of efforts that went into Jefferson's laboratory of architectural experimentation—his country home, Monticello. For context, he also includes chapters featuring other practicing architects of the time—Pierre L'Enfant, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch. Overall, readers will likely find that Kimball's single-minded passion for all things Jefferson is contagious."—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"As the architect of Monticello and the University of Virginia, among other masterful buildings, Thomas Jefferson is widely considered by contemporary academics to be the most skillful practitioner of early American architecture. In his new retelling, Howard argues persuasively that were it not for Dr. Fiske Kimball, a 20th-century scholar and historian who researched his architectural heritage, we might still think of Jefferson as primarily, and exclusively, a talented statesman. This is not an exhaustive biography — Howard has already written a definitive one on this subject. It's more like a one-act play that alternates between scenes set in Jefferson's late 18th century and Kimball's early 20th century, when he investigates numerous archives. We browse through Jefferson's library, peek over his shoulder as he writes letters and watch him sketch the European buildings that inspire him. Howard's narrative is particularly compelling as he takes us through the decades of efforts that went into Jefferson's laboratory of architectural experimentation — his country home, Monticello. For context, he also includes chapters featuring other practicing architects of the time — Pierre L'Enfant, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch. Overall, readers will likely find that Kimball's single-minded passion for all things Jefferson is contagious." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

When Thomas Jefferson was born, there were few high-style buildings in America, but in a lifetime full of political accomplishments, he also became the father of America's new architecture, enabling the Neoclassical to become the de facto national style for public and private buildings. However, in a strange lapse of historical memory, Jefferson's accomplishments were almost entirely forgotten by the time Kimball arrived on the scene almost a century later.

Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson is a moment-by-moment narrative of the men who created the profession of architecture in America, and Fiske Kimball is the spokesman: As the pioneering writer, scholar, and museum director who first assembled their stories, he takes us along in the surprising paper chase that eventually revealed Jefferson's architectural genius. Along the way, we also learn his story of dramatic discoveries and his founding of the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.

About the Author

Hugh Howard's numerous books include the definitive Thomas Jefferson, Architect; his memoir House-Dreams; the essay collection The Preservationist's Progress; and an introduction to the architecture of Williamsburg, Colonial Houses. He resides in upstate New York with his wife, writer Elizabeth Lawrence, and their two teenage daughters.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781582344553
Subtitle:
Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture
Author:
Howard, Hugh
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
General
Subject:
History - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Architecture
Subject:
U.S. Architecture - General
Subject:
General History
Subject:
History : General
Subject:
Jefferson, Thomas
Subject:
Historic preservation -- United States.
Subject:
Architecture-United States General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20061003
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b andw throughout
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » General
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » United States » East
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Jefferson, Thomas

Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture Used Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781582344553 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "As the architect of Monticello and the University of Virginia, among other masterful buildings, Thomas Jefferson is widely considered by contemporary academics to be the most skillful practitioner of early American architecture. In his new retelling, Howard argues persuasively that were it not for Dr. Fiske Kimball, a 20th-century scholar and historian who researched his architectural heritage, we might still think of Jefferson as primarily, and exclusively, a talented statesman. This is not an exhaustive biography — Howard has already written a definitive one on this subject. It's more like a one-act play that alternates between scenes set in Jefferson's late 18th century and Kimball's early 20th century, when he investigates numerous archives. We browse through Jefferson's library, peek over his shoulder as he writes letters and watch him sketch the European buildings that inspire him. Howard's narrative is particularly compelling as he takes us through the decades of efforts that went into Jefferson's laboratory of architectural experimentation — his country home, Monticello. For context, he also includes chapters featuring other practicing architects of the time — Pierre L'Enfant, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch. Overall, readers will likely find that Kimball's single-minded passion for all things Jefferson is contagious." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
When Thomas Jefferson was born, there were few high-style buildings in America, but in a lifetime full of political accomplishments, he also became the father of America's new architecture, enabling the Neoclassical to become the de facto national style for public and private buildings. However, in a strange lapse of historical memory, Jefferson's accomplishments were almost entirely forgotten by the time Kimball arrived on the scene almost a century later.

Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson is a moment-by-moment narrative of the men who created the profession of architecture in America, and Fiske Kimball is the spokesman: As the pioneering writer, scholar, and museum director who first assembled their stories, he takes us along in the surprising paper chase that eventually revealed Jefferson's architectural genius. Along the way, we also learn his story of dramatic discoveries and his founding of the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.

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