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The Law School at the University of Virginia

Architectural Expansion in the Realm of Thomas Jefferson
Philip Mills Herrington

BUY Cloth · 280 pp. · 7 × 8 · ISBN 9780813939308 · $49.95 · Apr 2017
BUY Ebook · 280 pp. · ISBN 9780813939469 · $49.95 · Apr 2017

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a masterwork of Thomas Jefferson, the "Academical Village" at the heart of the University of Virginia has long attracted the attention of visitors and scholars alike. Yet today Jefferson’s original structures make up only a small fraction of a campus comprising over 1,600 acres.

The Law School at the University of Virginia traces the history of one of the eight original schools of the University to study the development of the University Grounds over nearly two hundred years. In this book, Philip Mills Herrington relates the remarkable story of how the Law School and the University have used architecture to reconcile a desire for progress with a veneration for the past. In addition to providing a fascinating history of one of the oldest and most influential law schools in the United States, Herrington offers a valuable case study of the ways in which American universities have constructed, altered, and enhanced the built environment in response to the ever-changing demands of higher education and campus life.


Winston Churchill's memorable lines ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us’ can be summoned into service to describe the historical narrative that Philip Herrington embarks on in this book. The rub between built form and the institution housed therein is at the crux of this account. As UVa's law school grew and matured into its contemporary form, it grew and outgrew successive homes along the way, each of which exerted influence on the character of the school. Herrington's book contributes to the body of knowledge surrounding America's most unique architectural and urban form, the campus.

Brian Kelly, University of Maryland

A pathbreaking examination of the architecture of a notable academic institution.

Sara A. Butler, coauthor of University of Virginia: The Campus Guide

Philip Herrington’s evocative and elegant text is as illuminating as the many illustrations that grace the pages of this beautiful and important book. Sweeping across two hundred years, Herrington offers keen insights not only into the architectural expansion of the University of Virginia School of Law but into the evolution of legal education writ large. As legal education and the legal profession face the challenges of the future, this history of one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious law schools will offer up key lessons from the past.

Risa L. Goluboff, Dean and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law, Professor of History, University of Virginia

In his book, Herrington invokes the image of the two-faced Roman god Janus, who looks simultaneously backward and forward. "The architectural history of the University of Virginia," he writes, "is the story of an institution doing just that: trying to look to both the past and to the future at once.

Matthew Dewald · UVA Magazine

Herrington is a gifted writer and thorough researcher whose fluid prose style takes the reader on a fact-filled, action-packed journey through two centuries of legal and architectural history at Jefferson’s University, now celebrating its 200th anniversary.

J. Michaek Welton · Huffington Post

Philip Mills Herrington traces this story from a novel angle. He tells it not from the usual standpoint of curriculum changes, faculty biographies, and distinguished alumni, but from the various buildings the school has occupied. In short, he offers an engaging architectural history of the Law School.

VA Magazine of History and Biography

About the Author(s): 

Philip Mills Herrington is Assistant Professor of History at James Madison University.

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