Date Awarded

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




James P Whittenburg

Committee Member

Susan Kern

Committee Member

Susan V Webster

Committee Member

Gregg G Kimball


Whether made of stone, brick, or wood, the built environment is a bricolage of materials, skills, aesthetics, and practical needs. This dissertation disassembles the colonial and antebellum cityscape of Richmond, Virginia, into its component parts in order to better understand the relationships between builders, materials, and occupational knowledge as elements of the built environment, as well as the building culture that united them. This approach challenges the historically exalted place of architects and urban planners as the primary producers of a city, and instead focuses on the contributions of previously unknown carpenters, sawyers, joiners, bricklayers, and masons. These craftsmen labored together in occupational communities governed by generally accepted, though rarely written, rules that guided not only their daily practices, but also Richmond's evolution from a small port town to the industrial center of the antebellum South.



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