While traveling sometimes things don’t always go as planned. While on a trip to Washington D.C. we had booked a tour that would take us all over the Mall and the local area. Can’t remember the tour group, but I was extremely upset to get to the pick-up location to find out that it was cancelled due to the million family march on the mall. An email or phone call to cancel would have been nice, but we did get our money back. After much discussion, we decided to leave D.C. a day early (since there were too many people on the mall to do anything) and check out Monticello before we headed to our time share in Williamsburg. We made the best of a bad situation and had a great time checking out the former home and plantation of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.Monticello, now a National Landmark, is situated on the summit of an 850-foot high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap, and is the only private home in the United States to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Included in that designation are the original grounds and buildings of Jefferson’s University of Virginia.
Jefferson himself began designing and building this amazing property when he was only 26 years old. It was built to serve as a plantation house, which ultimately took on the architectural form of a villa. It has many architectural antecedents but Jefferson went beyond them to create something very much his own. He designed the main house using neoclassical design principles described by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, subsequently reworking the design through much of his presidency to include design elements popular in late 18th-century Europe and integrating numerous of his own design solutions.
Besides the main house at Monticello, there are numerous outbuildings for specialized functions, e.g., a nailery; quarters for domestic slaves; gardens for flowers, produce, and Jefferson’s experiments in plant breeding — along with tobacco fields and mixed crops. Cabins for field slaves were located farther from the mansion.
Today the Monticello is owned and maintained by the Tom Jefferson Foundation. The land is so amazing and I couldn’t help but think about what it was like in Jefferson’s time. How peaceful it must have been. Besides the house, the main thing I wanted to see was the gardens. I heard they were beautiful, and they didn’t disappoint. One of the first things you should do when you get there is to check out the Visitor Center. They have exhibits and films which share some of Jefferson’s life and ideas.
They have guided tours that you can take which take you through several parts of the house, while they tell you more stores about Jefferson and some of the slaves. Some of it is very heartbreaking. It was very interesting to find out that there are 43 rooms in Monticello. Wow, was my thought. It was big, but it didn’t look that big to me. I soon found out it was because the rooms were small. I also enjoyed seeing some of the eight fireplaces on site. The furniture was also pretty interesting. Some of the pieces were actually some pieces that were most likely owned by Jefferson.
We had such a great time visiting Monticello and I am so glad we had to change our plans and decided to do this instead. We have been back to the mall a few times, but have not been back near Monticello, so here’s to having to adjust on the fly! If you would like to visit, here is a link to their website
with tour information, pricing. as well as a lot of history about Jefferson himself. Very interesting history. We ended our visit by paying respect to him at his grave. Definitely something I felt that I wanted to do. Hope you enjoy your visit to Monticello if you find yourself in the area. We sure did.
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