Palladian architecture and social change in postrevolutionary Virginia

1988 1988

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Palladianism is a powerful international architectural model that found its widest American expression in the Chesapeake region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In Virginia, Palladianism is associated with the impressively scaled houses of the eighteenth-century ruling elite. Investigation of a later, previously undocumented phase of Palladian building associated with the Cabells, an accomplished Virginia family, reveals the continued dependence of the gentry class on elaborate architectural statements to demonstrate their power and authority and organize their complex domestic relations.

Between 1790 and 1810 the Cabells built a number of Palladian dwellings, both from a single building campaign and by radical alteration of earlier structures to achieve the distinctive configuration. While use of an imported European model accounts for the formal qualities of this collection of houses, the multipart configuration was tempered by traditional building practices and individual social needs to produce a particularly local interpretation of Palladian architecture.

While it is customary to attribute the appearance of the form to stylistic convention, talented designer or printed influence, this work proposes that the Palladian model was preferred by the Cabell family because it amplified and clarified political, economic and social distinctions, reinforced the structure of domestic relationships and satisfied new spatial needs.

The study has a dual ambition in reopening the discussion of American Palladian architecture. First, it proffers an explanation for the Cabells' selection of the Palladian model by pairing an architectural analysis with detailed political, economic and social studies of Virginia during the new national period.

Because we need to account for structures that have been excluded from mainstream architectural history and gain admission for them into the ranks of historical studies, the secondary task of this work is to introduce a fresh group of buildings for study in an attempt to enlarge, and thereby redefine, the architectural canon from 1790 until 1815.

Indexing (details)

American studies;
0323: American studies
0729: Architecture
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences
Palladian architecture and social change in postrevolutionary Virginia
Heck, Marlene Elizabeth
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 49/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Faust, Drew Gilpin
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.