Monday, February 8, 2010

The Octagonal House

In the first unit we have seen how architecture has influenced both how a place functions and the perception it gives off. For example, Jefferson choose to place his housing for his slaves just below the hill so that they would be unseen by approaching visitors. This reminds me of the Longwood Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. It is the largest octagonal house in the United States. The house however was never finished due to the start of the Civil War. However, the plans and part of the structure were completed, and now open to visitors, creating a place that was once meant for a private family, to now be a public historical artifact. It is interesting to see how civil war history put this house in a time capsule per say. The octagonal shape created a flow throughout the house, both for the planned occupants and for air. In a time when air conditioning did not exist, this clever architecture was a way of giving the occupants a luxury that others did not have. Another interesting fact about the house and its land is the first structure to be completed (the only one fully completed in fact) was the slave’s quarters. The family actually occupied them before the basement floor was completed in the house. Unlike Jefferson’s slave quarters, these were very prominent on the property. This prominence along with the unusual and elaborate architecture gave the impression to both the pubic then, and now that the family was very wealthy. Ironically, the lack of that wealth is what kept the house from ever being finished, and has left it in its current condition.

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