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An Incidental Architect and his Disgruntled Wife

Anna Berkes

First off, apologies (again) for the lackadaisical nature of my blogging in the last few weeks.  I fear the pace may slow down a bit as we enter the busy months of summer.

So, on with the business: just minutes ago I received a book which I feel certain will set many scholarly hearts aflutter here: Incidental Architect: William Thornton and the Cultural Life of Early Washington, D.C., 1794-1828, by Gordon S. Brown (Ohio University Press, 2009).   This is of course the very period that Jefferson spent a good deal of time in Washington, D.C. (what a coincidence!).  And in fact he knew the Thorntons, who visited him on his mountaintop in 1802.  Anna Maria Thornton wrote in her diary that Monticello "is a place you wou'd rather look at now & then than live at."  Indeed.

Among the other treats inside the book: a full-color profile portrait of none other than George Watterston, one of the first Librarians of Congress.  He has a rather striking shock of red hair.  Like a ski jump.   This is definitely the coiffure of a man destined to lose Jefferson's carefully-compiled packing list for the 6,487 volumes he sent to Washington, and to take liberties with Jefferson's beautiful Baconian classification system.

The book is not cataloged yet, but look for it on the shelves soon...

Legacy NID: 


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