"architecture is my delight, and putting up, and pulling down, one of my favourite amusements"

- Thomas Jefferson, as recorded by Margaret Bayard Smith

Influences and Inspirations ... Monticello ... University of Virginia ... Federal Architecture

Influences and Inspirations

Jefferson's lifelong interest in the classical world included a passion for architecture. Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio's Four Books of Architecture and renowned British Palladian architect James Gibbs's The Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture influenced Jefferson's architectural plans throughout his life. As American Minister to France, 1784-1789, Jefferson was inspired by the neo-classical architectural style then in vogue in Paris, particularly the Hôtel de Salm, the Hôtel de Langeac, and the Maison Carrée.


"Mr. Jefferson is the first American who has consulted the fine arts to know how he should shelter himself from the weather."
Andre Chastellux, 1784 

Monticello is the autobiographical masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson—designed and redesigned and built and rebuilt for more than forty years.

My Essay in Architecture

In this episode of our "Mountaintop History" podcast, Monticello guide Don McCracken shares the story of how Monticello came to be, both as an idea and as a physical building, and how it serves as an example of what scholars call “Jeffersonian Architecture.”

University of Virginia

Monticello guide Kyle Chattleton takes us through the decades-long effort to establish the University of Virginia, which Jefferson considered one of three accomplishments for which he most wished to be remembered.

Federal Architecture

Explore Related Topics

Architectural Conservation Architectural Conservator Lucy Midelfort discusses architecture and preservation at Monticello.
Restoration Watch this Q&A with craftsman Charles Morrill and former Director of Restoration Bob Self about Gaston & Wyatt, the architectural millwork firm that works with our historians and consultants on Monticello's restoration projects.

Beyond Monticello

A Life's Worth of Plans

Explore Jefferson's architectural plans, notes, and sketches in the Massachusetts Historical Society's online repository.


James Dinsmore & John Hemmings Irish house joiner James Dinsmore and his equally skilled partner, enslaved craftsman John Hemmings, transformed Jefferson's drawings from ideas into reality.
Jefferson's Building Notebook Check out Jefferson's Building Notebook, held by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Available from The Shop at Monticello

Gibbs' Book of Architecture: An Eighteenth-Century Classic

One of England's most respected and influential architects, James Gibbs was born in Scotland, studied in Rome, and left a legacy of design the world will treasure forever. His legendary 1728 folio, a sprawling gallery of Gibbs's magnificent drawings, perspectives, and blueprints, is a brilliant testimony to his remarkable talent.