Virginia State Capitol - A Closer Look

The Virginia State Capitol was Thomas Jefferson’s architectural declaration of independence from Great Britain. Its neoclassical design has influenced public buildings in America since 1788. Click on the icons to learn more.


Formed by gables, and typically held up by a row of columns called a colonnade, this triangular area is a common element in Greek and Roman classical buildings.


In classical Greek and Roman architecture, a row of columns called a colonnade is often employed on the exterior of buildings.


A classical column is composed of a base, a shaft, and a capital. The capitals of the columns on the Virginia State Capitol are in the Ionic style. The Maison Carrée, which inspired Jefferson’s design, had more ornate Corinthian capitals.


The portico, or porch, framed by the columns of the Virginia State Capitol is typical in classical Greek and Roman architecture. Jefferson included a smaller portico on his home at Monticello.


The cornice of the Virginia State Capitol displays dentil molding, named for the appearance of “teeth” created by the pattern of blocks.