Workers discovered the ‘chemical hearth’ partly designed by Thomas Jefferson while renovating the University of Virginia’s famous Rotunda.
As Reported By Michael Walsh, Yahoo News:
We’re still probing the depths of Thomas Jefferson’s accomplishments.
Over the weekend, the University of Virginia announced that Jefferson’s chemistry lab was discovered during renovations of the school’s famous Rotunda.
The United States’ third president, who founded the Charlottesville university, helped to design the 1820s “chemical hearth,” part of an early chemistry classroom — underscoring his appreciation for the natural sciences.
“It’s one of only a few — if not the only one — left in the world of this period that has not been fiddled with or changed over time,” Jody Lahendro, the university’s historic preservation architect, said in an interview with Yahoo News.
The chemistry lab survived because it was bricked up and forgotten about in the 1840s, when experiments were moved to another part of the building. This protected the room from a devastating fire in 1895 and the gutting of the building in 1976 (when the university wished to restore “Jefferson’s interior”), according to Lahendro.
Matt Scheidt, a project manager for John G. Waite Associates, an architecture firm overseeing the two-year renovation of the Rotunda, found the room while looking for evidence that masons may have thickened the walls of the rotunda following the 19th-century fire.
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