The Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France                                                                          Virginia State Capitol, Richmond

May, 2016:  The Maison Carrée, in the city of Nîmes, in southern France, is the best preserved Roman temple of our time anywhere in the former Roman Empire.  None other than Thomas Jefferson, America’s third President, copied much of the temple’s design when he was asked to design a capitol for the new state of Virginia, to be located in Richmond.

The Maison Carrée is, Jefferson said, “one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful and precious morsel of architecture left us by antiquity.” But Jefferson had never actually seen the Maison Carrée when he sent his design for the Virginia State Capitol late in 1785.  He knew the ancient Roman temple only from travelers’ descriptions and drawings.   He saw the Maison Carrée for the first time little more than a year later on March 20, 1787, spending long hours gazing at it.

I did the same thing today, May 15, 2016, spending long hours gazing at the beautiful structure, gleaming in the Provence sunlight, all cleaned up (many older photographs show the temple to have been dirty and dingy), bright and almost shiny.  Within the modernized interior, they show a video about the history of Roman Nimes; the video is something of a disappointment to visitors, who, consequently, give the building a lower “rating” than it deserves.  I think it amazing that in this part of the world, structures built two thousand years ago by the Romans are not all “ruins”.  Some, like Roman-era arenas in Arles and Nîmes, and the Maison Carrée, are put to good public use here in the 21st century.  Wow!​

​The Architecture of Representative Government

​Contact author Jim Stembridge at    or publisher Hinrich Muller at​




"“In addition to the author’s attention to art and painting and significant personnel involved in the creation of these dominant structures, the book is rich in additional historical tidbits. This gives the reader a better sense of the critical process of selecting a capital city, designing a capitol structure, and the securing of often necessary associated state functions (university, penitentiary) to help give the new capital and capitol permanency.  [Fifty State Capitols] is beautiful enough to be a classic Coffee Table Book, but the content, spirit, and highly varied inclusions of place-specific features makes it a great read as well.”  (Christopher Salter, Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO)

Fifty State Capitols: The Architecture of Representative Government by Jim Stembridge “is an especially recommended addition to school and community library American History and Architectural Studies instructional reference collections and supplemental reading lists.” (The Midwest Book Review) 

Highlighted Title, Architecture/US History  (Independent Publishers Online)
" . . . a great resource for any library or school."   (Rebecca Reads) 

"It's well done and the soft cover is very reader-friendly… and, the price is right!!"   (Heritage Store, Pierre, SD)
"I recommend this book for every library, school, and household.  It is a good read, but not only that, it is an important read.  Stembridge shows us, as the title says, the architecture of representativegovernment.  State capitols are symbols of democracy.  Being knowledgeable about them . . . raises our confidence in the processes of government, despite the ups and downs of daily headlines."  (Linda Burton, Capital Cities USA)


"I know I’ve said this before in a prior e-mail shortly after buying your book in 2011, but I wanted you to know how my much enjoyment I continue to get out of Fifty State Capitols/The Architecture of Representative Government.  I am now up to 37 state capital cities on my list of places visited.  I added Nashville, Jackson, Montgomery, and Little Rock to the list in the past year or so.  I hope to add Carson City to the list soon, and to spend more time in Baton Rouge at the various sites associated with Huey Long.  Your book has been a powerful inducement to me to get out and see these unique cities and capitol buildings.  I’m sure others have found it a compelling tool, too, and I again wanted to express my appreciation for your fine scholarship and photography."  (DK, Boise, ID)

“The balance of images and text inspires the imagination. You have managed to take the best kind of pictures in a technically difficult genre without giving them an over-polished professional feel. In other words, the pictures let the reader see the buildings ‘their way’ without the filter of the photographer's ‘signature.’ The quality of the printing supports the visual feel. This is a job well done!” (Nathaniel Sherrill, Thousand Oaks, CA) 

“The choice of images is superb, the photographs look terrific, there is great interest, variety, and imagination in every spread, and the text reads very well. I especially like the supplementary sections in the back. The book must be endlessly rewarding for anyone with an interest in the subject.” (Michael Smith, Silverton, OR)