Of the Academical Village’s many historically significant buildings, few have undergone as much consistent change over the years as the pavilions. For two centuries, these hallowed structures have served as living quarters for distinguished University officials ranging from faculty to provosts to presidents. The pavilions have also served students, providing them with the opportunity to learn in direct proximity to some of the nation’s finest teachers and researchers. Although the pavilions have been enlarged and modernized, they remain surprisingly intact, with most still functioning as Jefferson intended.
In particular, Pavilion VIII weaves a fascinating tale that in many ways mirrors the development of UVA from a fledgling American university to one of the nation’s premier public institutions of higher learning. With significant renovation work planned for the building, the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative will continue to raise private support to fund projects like this during the Lawn’s comprehensive restoration. Below are selected highlights from the pavilion’s storied history.
1820: Construction Begins
Designed by Jefferson, who was influenced by a drawing by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Pavilion VIII would feature a recessed entrance and four large Corinthian columns, making it one of the most distinctive buildings on the Lawn.
1827: Charles Bonnycastle
A professor of natural philosophy whose colleagues described him as “morbidly shy,” Bonnycastle would remain a resident of Pavilion VIII until his death in 1840. During his tenancy, the pavilion’s roof—like many on the Lawn—developed serious leakage issues. The University attempted to remedy the problem as part of a major repair campaign in 1835. The replacement roof may have been covered with a new type of shingle patented by Bonnycastle.
1842: Robert E. Rogers
This professor of chemistry and materia medica often found himself dealing with riotous student behavior. In 1845, a group wielding stones and wood shattered many windows on the Lawn, including those in Pavilion VIII. Rogers remained in the pavilion until 1852.
1852: J. Lawrence Smith
A successor to Rogers in vocation and residency, this chemistry professor lived in Pavilion VIII for only one year and then accepted a teaching position in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1853.
1853: Socrates Maupin
Having once been a student at the University, this chemistry chair lived in Pavilion VIII with his wife and six children until his death in 1871. To accommodate his growing family, he requested permission from the Board of Visitors to put an addition on the building. The board approved his request in 1853, and work was completed in 1855.
1872: John Staige Davis
A professor of anatomy, Davis also served as a surgeon during the Civil War. During his stay in Pavilion VIII, the building suffered from various maintenance problems, many of which were the result of a lack of means following the war. Davis also faced other challenges: In addition to his wife and three children, the pavilion housed his mother-in-law and three sisters-in-law.
1886: Charles Venable
Serving as chairman of the faculty, Venable lived in Pavilion VIII for 10 years. During this time, electrical lighting was introduced on Grounds. In the building’s earliest interior photos, which date from this era, lighting fixtures are clearly visible. The Venable household was likely a lively place, as the professor’s daughters were popular with University students.
1897: William Holding Echols
Affectionately referred to as “Reddy” Echols due to the color of his hair, this professor of mathematics lived in Pavilion VIII for some 38 years. During his tenancy, the use of adjacent dormitories as annexes to the building was likely discontinued. Echols was fond of keeping dogs for bird-hunting, and a number of setters lived at home with him and his family. He suffered a fatal heart attack in the pavilion in 1934.
1935: William Mentzel Forrest
Before this professor of religion moved in, Pavilion VIII underwent a number of renovations. Once they were complete, Forrest delighted in the new space, noting that it contained five basement rooms, four on the first floor, five on the second, two bathrooms, a basement lavatory, a butler’s pantry, and a number of large closets.
1950: The President’s Office Relocates to Pavilion VIII
Having served as a faculty residence for nearly 125 years, Pavilion VIII was ripe for change. In the late 1940s, the department of the university president converted the building into office space. Colgate W. Darden Jr., former governor of Virginia, was the first University president to use the pavilion in this capacity. The move also included the offices of the Board of Visitors.
1984: The President’s Office Relocates to Madison Hall
After working in the pavilion for nearly a decade, University President Frank Hereford made the decision to relocate the president’s office to Madison Hall, where the office remains today.
1985: Renovation and Restoration
By February 1984, the University had approved the restoration of Pavilion VIII, including its conversion into a combined faculty-living and student-learning space. In doing so, the University sought to promote a return to Jefferson’s original vision. In addition to faculty apartments, classrooms, and lounge areas, the pavilion featured offices for the University Guide Service. The renovated pavilion opened on January 15, 1986.
2011: Last Resident Before Renovation
John L. Colley Jr. professor of business administration in the Darden School of Business, was selected to live in the upstairs apartment, becoming Pavilion VIII’s last resident prior to the start of renovations in 2017.
2018: James E. Ryan
The University’s ninth president will soon join Pavilion VIII’s storied list of inhabitants. When Ryan arrives later this summer, he’ll reside in the building’s upstairs apartment while the president’s house, Carr’s Hill, is being renovated. Before his arrival, the University has completed a number of long-planned renovations, including a remodel of the apartment’s kitchen and bathroom. When the president relocates to Carr’s Hill, the University will continue renovating the pavilion, addressing the basement, first floor, roof, and mechanical systems.