A Significant Discovery on B. Henry Latrobe’s “Clifton”, Richmond, Virginia

Following my research on Richmond’s South Cathedral Place, I was assigned a topic that had led many previous researchers to dead end after dead end: a long-demolished Richmond structure attributed to our country’s first professionally trained architect and first Architect of the Capitol, B. Henry Latrobe. Latrobe could be considered an architectural historian’s ultimate celebrity … Continue reading A Significant Discovery on B. Henry Latrobe’s “Clifton”, Richmond, Virginia

The Original Clifton Drawings at Library of Congress

Spring break is past now and it seems I have been all too lax in reporting my research findings.  Prior to the break I took a trip up to Washington, D.C. to visit the Library of Congress’ Prints & Photographs Division, where the original Clifton drawings are preserved and housed in cold storage.  My appointment with Reference Librarian Marilyn Ibach resulted in the most incredible research session of my academic (and professional) career thus far.  After 2 hours of carefully studying and inspecting the two drawings, I came away with such an immense feeling of fulfillment and respect for that opportunity.  The drawings were absolutely incredible — especially the perspective.  One simply cannot grasp the level of detail from reproductions in books.  I took many pictures of both, front and back, and although I am not certain that I uncovered a spectacular clue to our mystery, I do have a much clearer understanding of the exactness of the site and detail imparted from Latrobe. (Click on the images throughout this post for a larger version.)

Back side of the perspective drawing.

The inspection began with the back side of the Clifton perspective drawing.  A handwritten inquiry “Belvidere?” was inscribed in pencil on the lower center portion of the paper, identified as staff notes.  On the lower left corner were additional internal staff notations that we deduced were from the Conservation Division for Preservation, when the drawings were sent to be preserved.  There was also some discoloration and staining (possibly some watermarking) along the right hand side from top to bottom.  Otherwise, there were no pricking marks that I could detect (we did not expect to see any) or any surface disruptions that would have seemed original to the drawing.  These details are hardly visible from any reproductions generally accessible in books today.  Also hard to notice is the indication for use of square columns at the attached portions of the wings to the main building, while the two free-standing columns at either side are to be round.  I also wondered if Latrobe envisioned a tumbled or more natural stone for the foundation of the structure.  I detected some pink randomized splashes of color along that area. Continue reading “The Original Clifton Drawings at Library of Congress”

A Day In Washington, D.C.

This past Wednesday was a really great day with my Mom in Washington.  She joined me on a multi-stop tour of some interesting spots recommended by Dr. Brownell.  Our first stop was at the James E. Blaine House at 2000 Massachusetts Avenue in the Dupont Circle neighborhood.  This is “the oldest remaining mansion in the Dupont Circle area…and the sole surviving example of at least seven imposing Second Empire and Queen Anne residences executed in Washington by the transplanted Philadelphia architect John Fraser.” (Scott and Lee, 327)  The mansion is truly interesting in person.  There are a lot of wonderful elements, including an ornate porte-cochere.  The huge terracotta brackets along either side of the Massachusetts entryway were so strikingly beautiful, featuring intricate huge unique sunflowers on each side. Continue reading “A Day In Washington, D.C.”