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By the Book: Patrick Lee Lucas, Athens on the Frontier

July 27, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Patrick Lee Lucas of the University of Kentucky (and previously UNCG) examines Grecian-style buildings and how they shaped 19th-century U.S. regional identities. Introduction by architectural historian Benjamin Briggs.

Free program.

Co-sponsored by Preservation Greensboro. Signing to follow with titles available for purchase from Scuppernong Books. 


About Athens on the Frontier

In 1811, architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe spurred American builders into action when he called for them to reject “the corrupt Age of Dioclesian, or the still more absurd and debased taste of Louis the XIV,” and to emulate instead the ancient temples of Greece.

In response, people in the antebellum trans-Appalachian region embraced the clean lines, intricate details, and stately symmetry of the Grecian style. On newly built public buildings, private homes, and religious structures, references to classical Greek architecture became the preferred ornamentation. Several antebellum cities and towns adopted the moniker of “Athens,” styling themselves as centers of culture, education, and sophistication. As the trend grew, American citizens understood the name as a link between the Grecian style and the founding principles of democracy—signaling a change of taste in service to the larger American cultural ideal.

In Athens on the Frontier, Patrick Lee Lucas examines the material culture of Grecian-style buildings in antebellum America to help recover nineteenth-century regional identities. As communities worked to define their built landscape and develop a shared Western identity, Lucas’s study invites readers to question many of the assumptions Americans have made about divisions and cultural formation in antebellum society.

Patrick Lee Lucas is an associate professor in the College of Design and serves as a Provost Faculty Fellow at the University of Kentucky and author of Modernism at Home: Edward Loewenstein’s Mid-century Architectural Innovation in the Civil Rights Era.


July 27, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Greensboro History Museum
130 Summit Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27401 United States
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