Fiske Kimball

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Sidney Fiske Kimball (1888-1955) was was first head of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. For many years, Kimball and his wife, Marie, were both associated with the Monticello Memorial Foundation.

In April 1923, the board of visitors of the University of Virginia appointment of Joseph Hudnut as professor of art and architecture in the place of Dr. Fiske Kimball, resigned. [1]

In 1923, Kimball left Virginia to establish the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and was appointed the university's architect the following year. The Kimball's maintained a summer home, “Shack Mountain,” located on a hilltop near Charlottesville.

Born in Massachusetts and educated at Harvard. With the publication in 1916 of his book “Thomas Jefferson, Architect, Original Designs in the Collection of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Junior," Fiske Kimball presented the definitive scholarly examination of Jefferson’s work and single-handedly restored Jefferson’s legacy as an architect. Until Kimball’s book it was widely held true that Jefferson did not design Monticello or the University of Virginia. While conceding Jefferson’s creativity and influence in their construction, the general consensus was that the sites were “designed”, as was the custom at that time, by the builders on site.

Today, because of Kimball’s thorough research, architecture is known to be Jefferson’s first love and his sketches and plans are considered to be the first set of architectural drawings made in America. Kimball’s respect for Thomas Jefferson’s genius as an architect was unreserved and he conducted ground-breaking research on Jefferson throughout his lifetime. With publication in 1922 of his book “Domestic Architecture in the American Colonies and the Early Republic”, Kimball also became a pioneer in the field of Architectural preservation.

Among his many and varied accomplishments:

  • 1916 - publication of his book “Thomas Jefferson, Architect, Original Designs in the Collection of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Junior."
  • 1919 – became the first Chair of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia where he was supervising architect for all building projects with a direct hand in the designs of the University Amphitheater, Memorial Gymnasium and the University Hospital complex.
  • 1922 – completed the design for the campus plan of Woodberry Forest School in Madison County.
  • 1922 – publication of his book “Domestic Architecture in the American Colonies and the Early Republic.”
  • 1923 – organized a Department of Fine Arts at New York University.
  • 1924 – became Chair of the Restoration Committee at Monticello supervising restoration of the house and grounds.
  • 1925 – became director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • 1928 – accepted appointment to Advisory Committee of Architects for restoration of Colonial Williamsburg.
  • 1930 - Served on the Committee responsible for design and construction of the Jefferson Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Kimball hand-selected John Russell Pope for the design.
  • 1940’s - Headed the American Institute of Architects.
  • 1940 and 50’s – Served as an art advisor to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Fiske Kimball served the Philadelphia Museum of Art for thirty years. He resigned in January 1955 but continued to serve Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg until his death in August of that year. Kimball’s wife Marie Christine (Goebel) Kimball, a scholar and author in her own right, was Monticello’s first Curator - serving from 1944 until her death in March 1955, just five months before her husband.

Fiske Kimball died in Munich, Germany, on August 14, 1955. He and his wife are buried at Monticello Memorial Gardens on Monticello Mountain, about a mile from Monticello. He is commemorated by the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library at the University of Virginia.


  1. Web. Bequest to University, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, Thursday April 19, 1923, retrieved Wednesday April 19, 2023.