Edgemont is one of America’s architectural gems. It is also one of the earliest examples of Thomas Jefferson’s influence on the architectural style of his neighborhood in the Virginia Piedmont. Standing at the foot of Fan Mountain about 15 miles south of Charlottesville, it is reputed to be the last remaining private residence whose design is attributed to Jefferson.
Without question, Edgemont exemplifies the symmetry and classical proportions Jefferson championed for the young nation he helped establish. Displaying a hipped roof and pedimented porticos on all four sides, the rusticated frame house is fifty feet square and is based on the Villa Capra (La Rotonda) in Vicenza, a masterwork by the 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Jefferson considered Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture his architectural bible and used the Villa Capra as the model for his anonymous - and unsuccessful -submission to the design competition for what would become the White House. Earlier, the Villa Capra provided the inspiration for Lord Burlington’s Chiswick House in west London, which helped give rise to the Palladian revival in England in the 1720s.
"Jefferson’s enthusiasm for ancient architecture arose in part from his conviction that the newly formed United States should develop an architecture to suit its politics: forthright, well balanced, moderate, and proportional."
- K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country
Today, Edgemont overlooks a farm estate comprising 572 acres of formal gardens, rolling pastures, and mature hardwood forest on the South Fork of the Hardware River. Like Jefferson’s Monticello, the home is encompassed by a carefully planned landscape that abounds in exquisite ornamental plantings and enchanting spaces. To these have been added a tennis court, swimming pool, pool house, and guest quarters that harmonize perfectly with the historic grounds.
Among Albemarle County landmarks, Edgemont is unmatched in its combination of history, scenic beauty, livability, and design elegance inside and out. Moreover, it reflects the legacy of a Founding Father for whom architecture was a lifelong passion and delight.
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