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The Gardens, According to Plan

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

This engraving, known as the Maverick Plan, was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson and created by Peter Maverick in 1822 (updated in 1825) to show Jefferson’s vision for the Academical Village. Even though it outlines no specifics for the pavilion gardens, it continues to have great influence on the gardens as we know them. UVA landscape architect Helen Wilson (Arch ’89, ’95) notes that when the Garden Club of Virginia reimagined the gardens in the 1950s and 1960s (see related photo essay), they rebuilt the serpentine walls largely according to this plan. “So those are roughly the configurations we see today,” Wilson says. “But we know from photographs and drawings and archaeology that the walls were quite different before that work was done.”

The engraving also shows the gardens I, II, V, VI, IX and X split in two. Each of those gardens was associated with a hotel (or dining hall), and the lower garden is presumed to have belonged to the hotel keeper, says University landscape architect Mary Hughes (Arch ’87). As a nod to that history, she says, you can still see fruit trees—and even grab their fruit—in the lower gardens.

Landscaper Shannon Adams, who works in the east gardens, notes that the gardens grow in size from north to south, as shown on the plan. That was part of an optical illusion Jefferson created, Adams says: If you stand on the steps of the Rotunda, the pavilions along each side appear equidistant from each other. To achieve that effect, I and II are the smallest gardens, and IX and X are the largest.