Is the White House, the residence of the Presidents of the United States, a copy of the Château de Rastignac or is it the opposite?
Was President Thomas Jefferson inspired by the plans of the Château de La Bachellerie?
The Château de Rastignac was built between 1812 and 1817 by the architect Mathurin Salat.
The castle and its park are classified as a historical monument.
In 1971, in order to decide the question, an American citizen, Mr. Leslie-E. Acsay, had offered a prize of 1,000 francs to find the date of construction and the architect of the castle.
The prize was won in 1972 by the curator of the Departmental Archives.
Some historians believe that the origin of this similarity would be a drawing by the architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau, who was a friend of Thomas Jefferson when he was U.S. ambassador in Paris.
It could also be a simple plagiarism.
In the 1780s, the Marquis de Chapt de Rastignac planned to have the castle rebuilt and had plans drawn up by an architect called Blanchard, whose real name was Mathurin Salat.
The project only restarted 20 years later, in 1811.
The current castle, in neo-classical style, is finally rebuilt.
The mystery remains...
Thomas Jefferson being in Bordeaux in 1789 and having visited the school of architecture where a copy of the plans had been deposited, he could have seen the plans of the future Château de Rastignac at that time and been inspired by them on his return to the United States.
The White House was built from 1792 onwards by Hoban and rebuilt after 1814.
The colonnade, imagined by Jefferson in 1792, was not completed until 1824.
This type of building with columns and a central dome is found in neoclassical architecture and thus in other plans of castles built at the same time.
It is also possible that the designer of the castle of Rastignac made a synthesis of the architectural forms that he would have seen during his travels.
The investigation continues!
Château de Rastignac
24210 La Bachellerie
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator