Latrobe’s Designs Made More "Kentucky"
The Library of Congress holds Latrobe's watercolor plans of Pope Villa. However, to understand what Asa Wilgus, Pope’s architect, really built, one must rely on physical clues: the “shadow of a removed staircase” along an interior wall or foundations left in the ground.
Excavations in the structure's front portico area revealed four equally spaced brick piers, suggesting that the portico had four equally spaced columns. This contrasted with a more intricate series of paired large and small columns shown on Latrobe’s plans. Other innovative features, such as cooking “stew pots,” were not built, either. They were replaced by a more typical large open-hearth cooking fireplace.
These findings suggest that Asa Wilgus reinterpreted some of Latrobe’s plans in ways that were more familiar to typical Kentucky builders and residents. Nevertheless, the overall layout of the house and the hidden rotunda, as built, were still truly revolutionary for the time.