Friday, July 16, 2010

Capitol Designer Dr. William Thornton

(1793, ca. 1797)

The model to the right shows how the Capitol would have looked if it had been completed according to the designs of Dr. William Thornton, the first architect of the Capitol, as shown in his architectural drawings.

An amateur architect from the British West Indies, Dr. Thornton was awarded $500 and a city lot for his design of the Capitol. A domed rotunda based on the ancient Roman temple called the Pantheon is the central feature of Thornton's composition. It is flanked by identical wings; one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives. This model shows how the original Capitol would have looked if Thornton's design had been carried out unaltered by those in charge of it construction.

The principal feature of Dr. Thornton's design for the Capitol's West Front was a central circular conference room placed between the north and south wings. Around 1797 Thornton decided that the conference room would be topped by a circular colonnade and dome intended as a "Temple of Fame." While the flanking wings were built according to Thornton's design, the conference room and "Temple of Fame" were never constructed.

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