Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Saturday we took off on an adventure that has been on our list for over a year - ever since we saw Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, we have wanted to go to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

We were hoping for a sunny day so that the fall colors would be vibrant. Although the day was mostly cloudy, it was warm and dry, so made for a good day.

Monticello is Jefferson's mountaintop home in Charlottesville, VA, about two hours south of us. Jefferson was a self-taught architect and designed Monticello himself, including many features that he had seen in Europe during his years as a U.S. statesman there.

Dan meets Thomas ... and he is shorter than we thought!

It is as beautiful up close as it looks in photos. We went on a thirty minute tour of the interior and then were allowed to walk through the outbuildings and basement on a self-guided tour.

At its peak, the Monticello plantation was 5,000 acres and had almost 200 slaves and hired help. Unlike other plantations, the outbuildings here were built naturally into the slope so they did not interfere with the vista of the main building. Above left is the north wing, which housed stables and a carriage house. Above right is a Jefferson innovation, a sixteen foot deep underground ice house.

Above left is the beer/wine cellar; above right, the kitchen; below is the room the cook and family lived in.

A small portion of the property is still devoted to raising crops. Here is the terrace garden that the employees care for. Note the vista on the left - Monticello offered Jefferson a grand view overlooking Charlottesville in the valley below.

Thomas Jefferson, and many of his descendants, are buried at Monticello. At his request, his tombstone reads:

Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.

It says nothing about being president of the United States.

Eight U.S. presidents have been born in Virginia, more than any other state. We have now seen the residences of three - Mount Vernon, Berkeley, and Monticello. We hope to someday see James Madison's Montpelier as well.

Another adventure ...!

1 comment:

CallinaP said...

Interesting...did it say why he didn't want being President included on his tombstone??