Natural and Built Landscape of the Academical Village


The Academical Village is a 28-acre site occupied by a U-shaped complex of buildings with the Rotunda, originally containing classrooms and the library, as the focus at the northern end of the Lawn.  The east and west sides of the Lawn contain five pavilions each, which served as faculty housing and classrooms, with student dormitories interspersed between them.  Running parallel to the east and west sides of the Lawn are the East and West Range, which face outward.  Each range consists of three hotels (which served as dining spaces and attended to other student needs) interspersed with student dormitories.  Between the Lawn and Range on each side of the Academical Village are walled gardens, which served the needs of both professors and the hotelkeepers. 

The original Academical Village also consisted of the Anatomical Theatre (seen in the image below), brickyards, outbuildings, an ice pond (slightly northwest of the Anatomical Theatre), and dozens of other outbuildings, most of which no longer exist. JUEL's Visualization section provides the locations and renderings of many of these original buildings. 

An overview of the Academical Village as it stood in 1827 is depicted in the image below, which is drawn from the University of Virginia Office of the Architect Cultural Landscape Report of 2013. This section provides a brief description of the primary buildings of the Academical Village, as well as the estimated location and description of various natural entities and built entities that are mentioned in the early primary records of the University. Detailed accounts of the Pavilions and hotels may be found in the Visualization section; browse the Image Gallery for early photographs and illustrations of the campus. 

Detail, Academical Village Map

Above: 1827 Landscape Plan (Cultural Landscape Report)

1827 Account of Landscape Improvements

The University of Virginia was established by the Virginia General Assembly on January 25, 1819. Pavilions III and VII were already under construction at this point; the remaining pavilions, hotels, and dormitories were built as funding was secured. They were largely completed by 1822; the Rotunda and Anatomical Theatre were completed in 1826, after Jefferson’s death on July 4, 1826.  Classes began at the University of Virginia on March 7, 1825 with five professors and about 65 students (the latter number being calculated from the total entries in the Proctor's Matriculation Book). 

The Academical Village between 1825 to 1827, having been officially occupied by faculty, students, hotelkeepers, and the range of servants, janitors, laborers, and workers that supported them, was thus no longer a proposed landscape plan but an actual lived space. As such, suggestions for improvements, repairs, and new features can be found in early JUEL Records - such as the following summary found in the Board of Visitors Minutes (from July 18, 1827):

Resolved that the Proctor(P44469) shall cause a neat iron railing to be placed on the right and left of the portico of the Rotunda (PL8647) & adjacent to the same; so as to exclude access for the purpose of walking over the gymnasia (PL8658). It being expedient, with a view to the healthful exercise & recreation of the professors (P44611) & students (P44661) of the University (CB0001), to provide public walks (PL8659) shaded in summer by suitable trees,

Resolved that there shall be set apart and appropriated to this purpose, that portion of the public grounds lying south & south-west of the buildings of the University,(PL8638) (PL8660) & bounded as follows, vix: —

On the East, by a line forming a continuation of east street (PL8661) & extending down to the public road (PL8662); on the South, by the public road; (PL8662) on the West, by the ravine (PL8666) between the barn situated on the University (PL7534) (PL8663) grounds & the house now occupied by the Proctor (PL8653); and on the North, by [174] [172]

a line formed by the road now extending from the barn aforesaid (PL8663), to the southern end of east street (PL8661), but departing from the said road so as to leave out of the public walks (PL8659), the brick stables of the professors (P44611) and hotel-keepers (PL8664) standing near the Southern end of the west street. (PL8665)

It shall be the duty of the Executive committee (CB0043) to cause the grounds lying within the limits aforesaid, to be inclosed, by causing the stone fence to be repaired & made an effectual fence, as far as it extends along the public road (PL8662), & by causing a strong & close post & rail fence to be placed along the residue of those limits. As soon as the grounds shall be enclosed, the Executive committee (CB0043) shall cause them to be laid out into suitable walks, and planted with appropriate trees, in clumps, avenues, or otherwise, as to them may appear most expedient & proper.

In the fulfilment of these duties, the Executive committe (CB0043) shall have [149]

authority to employ the agency of the Proctor (P44469) & the services of the laborers of the University; (CB0125) and, in addition to the expense of the enclosure, to expend such amount annually, as may be necessary in the aforesaid improvement of the grounds; (PL7534) not exceeding, however, the sum of one hundred dollars per annum.

Resolved that the Executive committee (CB0043) shall also cause that portion of the University grounds (PL7534) lying to the north of the Buildings, (PL8638) and between the same (PL8638) and the public road, (PL8662) to be enclosed by a strong and neat post and rail fence, and to be planted with appropriate ornamental trees, as to them (CB0043) may seem most proper. And that in the execution of this duty, they (CB0043)shall be authorised to avail themselves (CB0043) of the Agency of the proctor (P44469) & the services of the laborers of the University, (CB0125) as aforesaid. [175] [173]

Resolved that the executive committee (CB0043) shall also cause a strong and neat post & rail fence to be made at the southern extremity of the area between the pavilions (PL8642).

Resolved that stock of all sorts shall be excluded from the Public walks (PL8659), from the enclosure north of the Rotunda (PL8428), & from the area between the pavilions (PL8642); and the execution of this order is hereby given in special charge to the Proctor (P44469).