Thursday, July 27, 2017

Richmond's capitol square is not lacking
in architecture, statues, monuments

On May 19, the same day we made a last-minute stop at Charles City (Berkeley Plantation, yesterday's post) and Williamsburg, we also made an unplanned stop in Richmond, Virginia's capital.

We devoted the entire two hours -- I know we didn't spend more than that because our parking garage spot was only for that amount of time -- at the capital square downtown. We picked that because we thought we'd find something of interest to see and photograph. And we were right.

There were several impressive buildings, none more striking than the capitol, but it took a while to realize that what we were seeing. The Virginia capitol doesn't have a traditional dome, but it is a magnificent white structure with Roman columns that reminded me of the U.S. Supreme Court Building.

I took a bunch of photographs of the building, illustrated in the lead photo above, before finally flagging down some passers-by and asking if the building was home to the Virginia Supreme Court. Oddly, the first two people didn't know; the third pointed to an area west of where we stood, in the general direction of some trees, and said, "No, the Supreme Court is over there. This is the statehouse."

I was taken aback. It wasn't until recently, while refreshing my research before compiling this post, that I learned that Virginia is one of 12 states that have capitols without domes (the others being Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee).

The capitol in Richmond, the third home for Virginia's capital, was dedicated in 1785. The capital was first located in Jamestown, then moved to Williamsburg and, finally, to Richmond.

While visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello last September, I learned about Jefferson's extensive studies in architecture, his travels to France where he picked up many ideas employed in the New World, and the fact that he had a hand in designing many of Virginia's colonial era structures. Among those are key buildings at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the manor at Berkeley Plantation, which I wrote about in the previous post.

So I was not surprised to learn that Jefferson was partially responsible for the overall design of the Italian baroque style capitol in Richmond. With the help of French architect Charles-Louis Clerisseau, Jefferson fashioned the structure to model the Maison Carree at Nimes in southern France, an ancient Roman temple, according to the state capitol's citation in Wikipedia.

One phenomenon visitors can't ignore when they visit the statehouse square in Richmond: There are a lot of statues and monuments to local and national historic figures with Virginia roots. Even inside the capitol, there is an area displaying busts of the eight presidents native to Virginia (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson), statues of Jefferson, Washington and Robert E. Lee, and formal portraits of all the people who served as governor.

In fact, there is a street in the capital -- Monument Avenue -- where more statues and monuments can be found.

As usual, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is particularly useful if you access the blog using a mobile device. Click on the link in this sentence to view a full gallery of the images I made from my visit to the Capitol Building in Richmond.

Photo geek stuff: I shot all of my photos with my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens equipped with a B+W polarizing filter. I bracketed all compositions for three exposures to allow for melding in high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. Many of the images in this post were treated that way. 

Across the capital square is the distinguished federal court of appeals building (above). Inside the square, down hill from the capitol, is the plaza and fountain shown below. 


The governor's residence (above) is adjacent to the statehouse square. The ornamentation below is embedded in the walkway around the capitol.  


Above: The old city hall in Richmond, not far from the statehouse square.

Above: People relaxing or walking in the statehouse square, not far from one of the many monuments sprinkled about. 

An elaborate tribute to Washington and other historic figures (above and below) is the most spectacular of all the statehouse square monuments. 


Above and next three below: More examples of monuments in the square.




Above: This is the Virginia Supreme Court building, located beyond the trees where one person I talked to had pointed when I searched for the capitol.

Above: The capitol sits on a hill (Jefferson loved his hills), and public access to the structure is from the lower level doors at the bottom left. 

Above: This statue of Henry Clay welcome visitors inside the capitol. 

Above: A composition devoted to patterns, shadows and lines, but one that would not have been as successful without using high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment in post-processing to bring out detail in the staircase at the far end of the hall. 

There is no exterior dome on the capitol in Richmond, but there is a rotunda inside (above). I used the bottom section of the photo above to help made a second composition (below), integrating other aspects of the rotunda architecture as well as the top of the Washington statue. 


The statue of Washington, the nation's first president, was a short distance from one of Gen. Robert E. Lee in the Old House Chamber, the place where he was commissioned to lead the confederate army.  

Above: An example of one of the eight busts inside the capitol devoted to presidents native to Virginia. This one is for John Tyler. 

Above: Just three of the portraits of Virginia governors. 

Above: The text underneath this Mace of the Virginia House of Delegates tells the story of the symbol of government authority rooted in English tradition. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the legislative chamber known in most states as the house of representatives is called the House of Delegates. 

Inside the House of Delegates (above and next two below) and inside the Senate (third below). 





Next up: Jamestown, Va.

Previous posts in this East Coast swing series:

James Madison's Montpelier

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, Va.

Alexandria, Va.

Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Va.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Virginia plantation chock-full of history

Our stop at Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Va., on May 19 was yet another spur-of-the-moment decision. But boy, after leaving it, we couldn't understand why this place isn't better known ... and on more people's tourist destination itinerary.

Berkeley is loaded with history:

*** It's the birthplace of President William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, and the birthplace of his father, Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time governor of Virginia.

*** The nation's first 10 presidents spent time at home for various social gatherings, and at least two other presidents (Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush) also visited for non social gatherings. Lincoln's visit in 1862 during the Civil War was not for pleasantries; irked that Gen. McClellan had camped at Berkeley after retreating from Richmond, Lincoln went to Berkeley to vent his frustration and get an explanation firsthand. Bush was at Berkeley in 2007 to speak to a gathering commemorating the site as the first Thanksgiving.

*** The grounds were the site of the nation's first Thanksgiving, Dec. 4, 1619.

*** Berkeley Plantation is where the bugle call "Taps" was composed and first performed, in July 1862, while the Union Army under Gen. George McClellan was camped there. "Taps," arranged by Brigadier Gen. Daniel Butterfield, was composed to replace a previous call to signal "lights out" and was first sounded by Butterfield's bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton. A station on the grounds commemorates the event.

Berkeley Plantation might not have been preserved nor be the tourist destination it is today without the involvement and contributions of John, Malcolm and Grace Jamieson. John Jamieson was a drummer boy for the Union Army under McClelland and was with the general when he camped at Berkeley for two months in the summer of 1862.

Berkeley fell out of the Harrison's hands and into disrepair after the Civil War, and in 1907, John Jamieson -- then living in New York -- found a notice advertising that the property was for sale. Remembering his time at the plantation in the Civil War, he bought it, and after he died in 1927, the property was taken over by his son, Malcolm.

Malcolm and his wife, Grace, devoted the rest of their lives to restoring the grounds and structure and opening it into a tourist attraction in the 1940s. Both are buried in the plantation's cemetery, not far from Benjamin Harrison V and his wife, Anne. The plantation is now managed by their son, also named Malcolm.

As usual, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is particularly useful if you access the blog using a mobile device. Click on the link in this sentence to view a full gallery of the images I made from my visit to Berkeley Plantation.

Photo geek stuff: I shot all of my photos with my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens equipped with a B+W polarizing filter. I bracketed all compositions for three exposures to allow for melding in high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. Many of the images in this post were treated that way. 

The circular access to the manor (above), the gated entry to the manor door (first below) and the full front of the manor (second below). 



When he built the current manor in 1726, Benjamin Harrison IV had this oval dedication (above) imbedded in the side of the exterior (below) as a symbol of his everlasting love for his wife, Anne Carter. She died in 1743, and Harrison and his two youngest daughters were killed two years later when they were struck by lightning while Harrison tried to close a window in an upstairs room during a storm. After his death, 19-year-old Benjamin Harrison V, who later signed the Declaration of Independence, took over the plantation. 


Above: On the fringe of the garden is a replica of Benjamin Harrison's Chippendale Gazebo.

Markers and a historical summary plaque (above and below) commemorating the first Thanksgiving, on Dec. 4, 1619. A shrine to the event (second below) houses the summary plaque. 



Within eye-shot of the James River is this station (above) commemorating the composition of the bugle call "Taps" at Berkeley Station. A closeup of the plaque (below) tells the "Taps" story.


Above: A scene from the grounds between the manor and James River.

Above and below: Two scenes of the plantation's brush with the James River, including a section of the shoreline (above) and another not far from the cemetery (below). 


Above and next three below: Shots from the plantation gardens. 




On the grounds near the James River is a modest cemetery that includes the graves of Malcolm and Grace Jamieson (above) and Benjamin Harrison V and his wife, Elizabeth (below). 


Above and below: Shots from inside the modest gift/merchandise shop. 


Next up: The Capitol Building in Richmond, Va.

Previous posts in this East Coast swing series:

James Madison's Montpelier

George Washington's Mount Vernon