Alexander Jackson Davis Gave VMI Its Gothic Revival Style

When the Ohio Historical Center prepared its exhibit, “Ohio’s Garden Path: The Flowering of Our Landscape,” one of my jobs was to scan several illustrations from Cottage Residences, an architectural pattern book by Alexander Jackson Davis and Andrew Jackson Downing that was published in 1842. Before my task was complete, I was hooked not only on the Gothic Revival style, but also on Davis, the 19th century architect who helped popularize it. Davis designed Lyndhurst, one of my favorite historic homes in Tarrytown, New York. He had also offered advice about the design of the Ohio Statehouse. Most attention-getting was the fact that Davis created the first American college campus entirely in the Gothic Revival style, at none other than Virginia Military Institute.