The Rotunda

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia houses offices and is used for ceremonial occasions. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson as the architectural and academic heart of his community of scholars -- the "academical village," as he called it. Jefferson modeled the Rotunda after the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in 1822 and was completed in 1826 at a cost of $60,000. Shortly after the Rotunda's completion, many classes were moved from the first floors of the Pavilions into the Rotunda's oval rooms. The Rotunda served as the library for more than a century.

In 1895 the Rotunda was destroyed by fire. Architect Stanford White undertook its reconstruction. In 1938, students and faculty carried the entire library collection to the new Alderman Library building. In 1973, restoration of the Rotunda to Jefferson's original design began. On April 13, 1976, during the U.S. Bicentennial and on the 233rd anniversary of Jefferson's birth, the restored Rotunda was dedicated. Also in that year, the American Institute of Architects recognized the academical village as the most significant achievement of American architecture in the past two hundred years. The Rotunda appears today essentially as it did when it was built.


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