Author: K. Edward Lay


James Dinsmore (1771 or 1772–1830)

James Dinsmore served as Thomas Jefferson‘s master carpenter for more than a decade. Born in Ireland, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1798 and began work for Jefferson soon after. Living and working at Monticello, in Albemarle County, he was responsible for much of the house’s woodwork and furniture. In 1809, he and John Neilson oversaw the expansion of James Madison‘s Orange County plantation, Montpelier. The two worked on some of Virginia’s most noted architecture, including the University of Virginia‘s Rotunda, Jefferson’s retreat at Poplar Forest, in Bedford County, and John Hartwell Cocke‘s Upper Bremo home, in Fluvanna County. Late in his career Dinsmore designed and constructed Estouteville, a mansion south of Charlottesville, noted for its Tuscan exterior porticoes and great interior hall with an elaborate Doric frieze. Dinsmore drowned in 1830.