'Serpentine walls and ... said in a statement released by UVA. In addition, the UVA Office of the Architect’s landscape architects work with the gardeners to help oversee the planting design of the gardens. Only one brick thick, these curved walls were able to conserve resources, using 25 percent fewer bricks than a straight wall. Unlike straight walls, serpentine walls can stand tall with only one layer of brick. Serpentine walls are a distinguishing characteristic of the architecture of the University and were a part of Jefferson’s original plan for the Academic Village — to create a garden space outlined by the curved walls.

The design allows gardeners more control over the sunlight plants receive. The school’s original serpentine walls, which were built in the 1820s with the help of enslaved labor, were 8 feet tall and served as a barrier between the university community and enslaved people. The current walls, shorter and with a wider berth, were constructed in the 1950s. The original serpentine walls were built in the 1820s and later removed for space issues. Jefferson’s original design notes for the wall, housed at the university library, show he calculated the precise number of bricks he could avoid purchasing by opting for the serpentine style of wall. Historic masons and carpenters from Project Services care for the historic brick, steps, serpentine walls, ornate gates, benches, patios and pavilion homes.

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