Monticello

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Monticello Pamphlet and ticket

 

June 16th, 2007

 Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

 

 We went to Monticello on a gorgeous day (low 80's) and it was clear.  Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson has a lot to talk about, but will mention just a few tidbits.  First about Jefferson: 3rd President of the US who didn't care about being remembered for that.  As he had written on his grave monument, he should be remembered for: author of the Declaration of Independence, author of Declaration of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.  He was also delegate to the Virginia General Assembly and in Congress as governor of Virginia, he was Minister to France, Secretary of State, and Vice President of the United States. While president, he was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark  expedition which is most evident in the entrance to his home.  We learned visitors often waited several hours at a time to see him, and so in the hall he put many articles to look at, with a whole wall devoted to gifts from varying tribes during Lewis and Clark's journey. A postcard of those artifacts I have but did not scan it in.  If you'd like to see it, just email.

     Monticello means "Little Mountain" in Italian.  We learned Jefferson spoke seven languages and loved Italy, which is where he was got the name.  Jefferson wrote one book, which was originally published in French (about life in the US) but the English people of the world wanted to read it too, and eventually is was re-published in English.  A copy of the book sits in Jefferson's personal library (sorry no photos as we were not allowed to take photos inside and no postcards were available).    

     Jefferson inherited the 5,000 acre site from his father, Peter Jefferson in 1764.  150 slaves helped construct the house and outbuildings and worked there later.  It's ironic Jefferson owned slaves and wrote the Declaration of Independence... in his lifetime, he only ever freed 2 slaves and another 5 were freed upon his death. 

     Jefferson taught himself to be an architect. His designs for this homestead were unique and innovative with open air terraces etc.  Monticello started out as a two story 8 room house, but it turned out to be three stories with 21 rooms.  The main floor has 11 rooms: 1) Entrance hall (displays Indian artifacts, maps, European art, bones, horns and skins of extinct and living North American animals. 2) Parlor contains 48 works of art of important men whom influenced Jefferson and musical instruments, including a piano he gave to his wife as a wedding gift. See postcard below. 3) Dining Room which guests came for an European style dinner which lasted for many hours  See postcard below. 4) Tea Room which was kind of like a breakfast nook to us nowadays 5) Guest Room 6) Guest Room 7) Sitting room (which served as a schoolroom for his grandchildren and Jefferson's Daughter's (only surviving child who had 11 children) office 8) Library where he had the largest book collection in the US but later donated them to the Library of Congress when it burned down.  Later, he amassed another library but less than it's original size 9) Cabinet (his study which contained a polygraph) 10) Jefferson's bedroom (which actually was sort of part of his study because it was an  alcove bed connecting the two 11)  and a Greenhouse (he didn't profit much from his farm; actually, he spent more than he made, but he did like to experiment in horticulture).  In addition to that, he had two enclosed porches or sunrooms.  The second and third floors contained 9 bedrooms (for his daughter and her children) and the top floor contained the Dome Room which is infamous for its design. 

    The outside contained what they called "dependencies". These were enclosed rooms, attached to the main house by covered passageways/walkways.  Dependencies included:  Wash house, carriage bays, ice house, two privies, a wine cellar, smokehouse, kitchen, dairy, beer cellar, stables, a couple other storage cellars, a cooks room and two other slave quarters.  These were hidden in the hillside so as not to obstruct the view from the house.  the South Pavilion was the first building ever erected.  It was one room and he and his wife lived there while the house was being built.  The North Pavilion was used as an office for Jefferson's son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph.  (it also was probably built to add symmetry). 

  Around the house and down the hillside a bit is called "mulberry row" which housed 17 outbuildings where slaves worked. Nothing really survived (see photo below of the Joinery chimney which is the only thing besides a small gravesite with two graves, that survived.  Buildings would have included:  Workman's house (this survives in part and is now home to the gift shop) it served many purposes including slave quarters for house servants, then joiners/masons until finally it served as a textile makers where a dozen women/girls made cloth Log Dwelling (one of 5 log dwellings for slaves) 3) Stone Dwelling This is the Levy Gravesite (Rachel Phillips Levy's grave who was once and owner of Monticello).  Smokehouse/Dairy (later these were added to the Dependencies) Storehouse (stored iron and nails for blacksmiths, tinsmiths etc Blacksmith Shop/Nailery  they repaired guns, carriages and other things here and made nails which were sold to nearby farms Joinery where they made all the woodwork for the house etc here. Best workmanship in North America here (see photo below of the surviving chimney) Carpenter's shop storage place for the wood milled Sawpit (sawed the wood).  All this makes 16 that I add up (if the Smokehouse/Dairy were separate and the Blacksmith shop and Nailery were separate.  I don't see the other building unless they are counting the small brick structure in the garden, which served as a small place to rest.... covered, like a gazebo.

     Jefferson grew fruits in the orchard, vegetables, got wine from his vineyards, varying crops (including Tobacco which eventually didn't work well for him even with crop rotation) and flowers for his personal taste.  A note about slaves...they worked for food and got small pay and two sets of clothing per year and a blanket every three years. Slaves made their own cloths, grew their own vegetables and fished to supplement their diet and extras they grew or made they sold for profit.  A slave gravesite was located near the ticket office, but it's enclosed with a split rail fence though no gravestones or anything are seen. It looks like a patch of ground and nothing else.  They can't identify people there, so just leave it fenced in with nothing done to it.  I firmly believe at least one monument or sculpture should be placed there.

     A note about Sally Hemmings.  During this visit, no one talked about it, though a mention of a "mistress" in Paris was not only mentioned but a painting of her was seen in one of the rooms.  Sally Hemmings was mentioned in the brochure as a small footnote, stating that in 1998 a DNA test from an alleged "descendent" did in fact reveal a link to Jefferson and that it's a high probability that Sally's son Eson was likely Jefferson's son. They claim that he most likely fathered several children with Sally Hemmings, but that evidence is not definitive.  I have heard (not from here), that nobody has claims to any inheritance or the estate in any form.  They cannot be buried here etc.

    Admission etc:  HOURS: 8 AM-5 PM daily March-October, 9 AM-4:30PM November-February. Closed Christmas.  ADMISSION: $15 for adults, $7 for children 6-11 and under 6 are free. Admission includes access to the grounds, guided house tour and gardens and grounds and plantation tours.  You can do a self audio guide (not sure how much). Parking is free.  shuttle from the parking area to the home is free. Photos allowed outside only.  No large bags or food/liquids allowed in the home.  No leaning on walls, or even touching doors or anything is allowed.  Only thing you are allowed to do is stand on the floor. No pets or smoking and cell phones and electronics need to be off. There are restrooms outside in the dependencies (converted from their original use).  None in the house... Handicapped accessible except for stairways and some rooms in the house because of width constrictions.  There is a gift shop (expensive as all are) and a small restaurant which is located at the Ticket office and has a very limited menu.  Vending machines outside at the gift shop and ticket office are available and trash cans located nearby for putting your trash. there are varying passes/ticket tours (you will not see the dome or upstairs bedrooms n the regular tour).  These prices vary and need special reservations.  To find out about that, visit the main site (see above and below).  Water fountains I did not see, but I think one was at the gift shop.  Please bring comfortable shoes for a lot of walking and appropriate clothing.  Those allergic to bees, should be prepared as this day there were hundreds on the flowers.... bring film, a few dollars for a souvenir, drink or sandwich and that's about it.  I found the view to be gorgeous and you can't see any highways, streets, buildings (well far away you can see a few on the mountain or the university very faintly in the perfect position between a clump of trees.... it's picture perfect and very green, quiet and unspoiled. I enjoyed the visit and wished to live in a setting like that.  The guide was knowledgeable and nice except he got huffy if anyone even looked like they were going to lean on a wall!

 

 

Left to right: 1) Beer cellar 2) farm cart 3) Cooks bedroom 4) Dependencies (west side/servant side I think) 5) Dependencies (east side I think-Stables outdoor workmen side) 6) looking down east side dependencies from the room (top is a deck/walkway)

 

Left to right: 1) Grain Storage room 2) Ice House 3) Indoor privy (one of four on the premises) 4) Kitchen 5) Kitchen 6) stables

 

Left to right: 1) Ice House 2) indoor passageway to main house 3) Smokehouse 4) South pavilion office (this is outside on top of the dependencies ...one room) 5) Wine Cellar 6) South Pavilion (west side)

 

Left to right: 1) A sculpture 2) a Chimney sticking out the roof of the west dependency 3) Monument in the graveyard (obelisk one is Thomas Jefferson's) 4) Graveyard/gate 5) Graveyard 6) Thomas Jefferson's Grave (and gate)

 

Left to right: 1) Ruins of the Joinery (chimney - Joinery was a carpenter's workshop) 2) The main house 3) Main house 4) Main house 5) Main house 5) view of the Vegetable garden looking out from the covered small building that was put there just to rest/sit, sort of like a gazebo

 

Left to right: 1) vegetable garden 2) vegetable garden 3) flower garden 4) vineyard 5) view from house 5) another view from the house

 

Left to right: 1) Postcard: Jefferson's personal study 2) Postcard: Parlor 3) Postcard: Entrance Hall 4) photo of butterfly in the flower garden 5) Postcard: Dining room

 

Links of interest

Montpelier

Mount Vernon

Monticello

Michie Tavern and Meadow Run Grist Mill

President's Park

Sally Hemmings

Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson

 


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