Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture
Yes, they make rather an odd couple-but, truly, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Fiske Kimball (1888-1955) are the Johnson and Boswell of the story of American architecture. If not for Dr. Fiske Kimball, we might never have known that Thomas Jefferson was an architect. Though he was hailed as a brilliant statesman, Jefferson was all but unknown as an artist and an architect for nearly a century. But Kimball, an industrious scholar with a keen eye, made a series of critical discoveries that changed not just the image of Jefferson, but also rewrote the story of American architecture, introducing its first real practitioner.
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch, William Thornton, Robert Mills-Kimball identified the key figures who together with Jefferson transformed the craft of building into the art of architecture, at the same time setting the aesthetic tone for a young country still struggling to define itself. Part detective story, part narrative history, Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson recreates the stories of these visionary men through the lens of the amazing Fiske Kimball, who, in resurrecting their legacy, helped found the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.
Hugh Howard's books include the definitive Thomas Jefferson, Architect; his memoir House-Dreams; the essay collection The Preservationist's Progress; and an introduction to the architecture of Williamsburg, Colonial Houses. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and their two teenage daughters.
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