In December 1817, the English architect William Jay arrived at the busy port of Savannah, Georgia. In the coming four and a half years, he designed several public buildings and private residences in Savannah and a few structures in Charleston, South Carolina. All of his work was remarkable; yet, soon after his departure in 1822, only vague recollections of Jay survived in Savannah, and in Charleston he was forgotten altogether. Early in the twentieth century, Jay's work was observed by a few prominent architectural historians, and accounts of his life and labors began to appear. But none of these offered satisfying answers to these questions: Just who was this man? Where had he come from, and what of his family and friends? Why did he pursue the profession of architecture, and where and how was he trained? Why did he venture to Georgia, the last of the English colonies; and why did he leave after such a short period of time? And, why had his elegant work not been more noticed in the history of American architecture? This new biography of Jay describes his place in a vibrant but volatile world. The English Regency was marked by the wealth and power of empire, the accomplishments of the industrial revolution, and the emergence of a vast underclass trapped in grinding poverty. Jay's father, the most popular preacher of the day, was a leader in evangelical campaigns to bring relief to the poor, to foster universal literacy, and to abolish slavery. In this tumultuous environment, Jay made his way. He suffered many disappointments, but he gained remarkable achievements, not least of which was his lasting imprint on "showy Savannah."
"The Showy Town of Savannah" The Story of the Architect William Jay
Hardback (26 Apr 2019) | English
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