Tuesday July 7, 2015 Previous Post:
Charlottesville, Virginia A Virtual Walk to Jefferson’s Rotunda
My last post left us at the Rotunda’s 3 year facelift. Not too many folks were interested in the walk it seems. We’ll see what they think about the gardens.
I walk on around the side, peek in the fence to see what’s going on there and then proceed along the serpentine wall lined walk to the chapel. The serpentine walls are one of the many structures Thomas Jefferson created that combine aesthetics with utility. The curving path of the wall provides strength against toppling over, allowing the wall to be only a single brick thick. Pretty neat but hard to photograph.
The chapel sits outside of the main Academical village and was designed by a Baltimore architect and alumnus of UVA. It was built in 1890.
The chapel is the first structure on Grounds built exclusively for worship. With its Gothic Revival style, it is in sharp contrast to the secular classicism of the nearby buildings on the Lawn. According to The Campus Guide: University of Virginia, the Chapel was built in response to 19th-century accusations of heathenism that had been leveled at the University. That makes me laugh.
The Chapel is a beautiful stone building in great demand for alumni weddings. I’ve heard you have to book it years in advance. Do people plan their weddings years in advance?
I hear the chapel bell ringing later when I’m walking through the gardens.
From the chapel, I turn back to the first of the West Range gardens. The open gate is so inviting.
All of the gardens have white benches on some of the paths. Some are semi hidden. This one is out in the open against the serpentine wall of the garden.
The upper part of each garden is the back of the Pavilion where the professor lives. Now that there are so many more professors than Pavilions, they are reserved for the Deans of the Colleges and schools. It’s a feather in your cap to live on the lawn whether you are a professor or a student.
I only meet two folks on my walk through all 10 gardens today. Here is the first one.
He’s so busy munching grass he doesn’t pay me any mind. He’s as cute as he can be but has a serious number of ticks on him.
Out one gate and in the next.
Some gardens have sculptures on the lawns and big trees to hug.
This bench has no back. Perhaps they don’t want you to get too comfortable under the apple tree and pick all the fruit. Although all paths seem to lead to the tree.
I don’t see much espaliering of fruits anymore but the gardeners here have done it against the serpentine walls.
Another hidden bench.
Between two of the gardens on both the west and east sides, a drive goes up for the professors’ vehicles to reach their homes. Serpentine walls lined with flowers and lamp posts make a pretty fancy drive way.
And how about this walk up to the back of your house through your “yard” which is taken care of by the UVA Gardens Grounds Crew. Sweet!
Back in the corner of most of the gardens are two or three doors leading into what were the outhouses and are now gardening sheds for the people who take care of the gardens.
I’ve strolled through all the west gardens and now cross the lawn to walk back up through the east gardens. The University of Virginia Graduation Ceremonies take place on the lawn here each year, so does a community Halloween trick or treat when local children go from door to door in the academical village and the students and professors provide the treats.
In the first garden on the east side I find Michael getting tools from the outhouse turned garden shed.
We chat for a while and he tells me how much he loves his job.
I’m surprised to see so few people and no one using the benches for study or reading or lunch. Perhaps it’s because it’s summer and a hot day. But here in the gardens, it’s quite cool. When I worked at the University I often spent my lunch hours in the gardens on a different bench each time.
The crepe myrtle back in the corner of this garden is finishing his display and the pink petals even look beautiful on the ground and especially decorating the rock.
I finally smell a mimosa before I see it. It’s the only one I’ve found here. I smile when I see the pink flowers planted around it by the gardeners.
I can cross the driveway here and go directly from one garden into the next. Usually you have to go out and around to move from one to the other.
The back of this Pavilion facing the garden looks almost identical to the front facing the lawn.
I’ve come to the last garden gate. I leave the enclosed spaces for the larger world outside.
What’s the name of this building?
Once back in front of the Rotunda, I take the same walk back again.
Madison Bowl is surrounded by numerous Greek Houses on Madison Lane which is directly across University Avenue from the Rotunda.
This side of Rugby Road beyond Beta Bridge is the “arts area”. The art school, art museums and architecture school are all in this area along with the Helms Theater. On another day perhaps I’ll walk around there and show some its beauty.
I had thought I’d get an early morning walk in before it got too hot but with the labyrinth side track, it has taken me the entire morning. But that’s OK, I have nothing else pressing to do. I sure do love being retired. Should have done that years before I did.