Did Jefferson put ‘miniskirt’ on Washington?

On this day in 1816: Responding to a letter from Sen. Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, Thomas Jefferson offers his opinion “On the subject of the statue of George Washington, which the legislature of North Carolina has ordered to be procured, and set up in their Capitol.”

Jefferson, retired at Monticello at age 73, proposes the state use an Italian sculptor, Antonio Canova, and Italian stone, Carrara marble. Washington, he adds, should be depicted in Roman costume: “I am sure the artist, and every person of taste in Europe would be for the Roman. . . Our boots and regimentals have a very puny effect.”

North Carolina follows Jefferson’s advice, and the Canova statue will be a source of state pride until it is crushed in the Capitol fire of 1831.

In 1970, following heated debate in the General Assembly over the appropriateness of Washington’s “miniskirt,” a privately financed copy of the statue is installed in the Capitol.

Hey, Texas, it’s not just our BBQ that’s better

“This week in Raleigh, N.C. the newest major art museum in the U.S., and the first to have a collection fully subsidized by state funds, opens its doors with more than a million dollars’ worth of paintings already hanging on its walls….

“On a preview visit Art News Editor Alfred Frankfurter pronounced the results to date ‘the only important public collection south of Richmond and east of the Pacific.’ Said he: ‘Those Texans, who boast about giving away Cadillacs as souvenirs at dinner, had better sit up and take notice. They’ve nothing to match it.’ “
— From Time magazine, April 9, 1956
And this just in: architectural kudos for the West Building’s “gently luminous setting.”

The rise and long, hard fall of muscadine wine

More phrase-frequency charts from Google Books Ngram Reader:

— Chapel Hill vs. Raleigh and Durham

Variety Vacationland. Tourism promotion not a priority during World War II?

— Billy Graham vs. Jim Bakker. No contest, even during the glory run of PTL.

— North Carolina vs. South Carolina. South Carolina’s spike in the early 1700s roughly coincides with its becoming a royal colony.

muscadine wine. After 150 years out of favor — longer even than big band music! — still waiting for a comeback.

Grab a shovel, everybody — you too, Raleigh

On this day in 1913: As part of his proclaimed Good Roads Days, Gov. Locke Craig, clad in overalls, takes up a shovel on a Buncombe County work crew.

Craig’s call for two days of volunteer maintenance on the state’s dirt roads elicits mixed response. In Guilford County more than 1,000 men show up; students at State Normal and Industrial School for Girls put 400 rakes to use. At Chapel Hill, acting UNC president Edward Kidder Graham takes the lead in leveling Franklin Street. Lenoir College students, according to The Charlotte Observer’s correspondent, “livened up the occasion by giving cheer after cheer for Hickory and Governor Craig.”

In Raleigh, however, “There was practically no response on the part of citizenship. . . . ”

Pictured: From the Good Roads lobby, a gorgeously utopian pinback button.

What NC cities boroughed from NYC

Until recently I knew only about Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, not about Raleigh’s or Wilmington’s. Is this nomencluster anything more than coincidence? Does the name appear elsewhere in North Carolina? (If so, it avoided Michael Hill’s exhaustive expansion of the Gazetteer.)

The Brooklyn (New York) Public Library offers this entertaining look at its “Brooklyn (non New York)” files, but no mention is made of North Carolina neighborhoods.

None of these, of course, is North Carolina’s most famous Brooklyn.