During recent renovations, a chemistry lab with links to Thomas Jefferson was discovered behind a wall in the University of Virginia’s Rotunda.
According to a university press release, Jefferson — the third U.S. president and founder of UVA — collaborated with Professor John Emmet in the 1820s to design a space where Emmet’s students could conduct their own research. The hearth at the center of the lab had two heat sources and was equipped with flues to remove smoke and fumes. Students worked at five adjacent countertops.
“This may be the oldest intact example of early chemical education in this country,” campus preservationist Brian Hogg said in the release.
Following the renovations to the Rotunda, the newly discovered lab will remain on display. — Elizabeth E. Payne