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Dr. William Thornton (1759-1828), a family friend, designed the house. In his plans for Tudor Place, Thornton expressed Palladio’s forms in a distinctly Federal, American style, melding French-influenced romantic classicism with traditional English forms.
The house’s five-part structure, with a two-story Central Block and low Hyphens connecting to higher, two-story wings, followed a form immensely popular in the Chesapeake region during the Federal period (c. 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815).
The most architecturally significant feature is the domed, marble-floored Temple Portico. Thornton’s circular structure extends into the house itself, with curved, wall-to-floor ceiling windows serving as a transition between interior spaces and the exterior sprawling South Lawn. The exterior of the brick house was clad in stucco, scored to resemble blocks of finished stone, a common Federal period technique.