Highland, home of president James Monroe

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1000 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Highland, home of president James Monroe Charlottesville Reviews

vances vances
575 reviews
Rising from the ashes Jun 27, 2017
Time marches on, but fortunately we look back over our shoulder every now and again to make sure we are on the right path. Up until 2016, you could tour the site known as Ash Lawn-Highland and be conducted through the presidential home of James Monroe. The “Ash Lawn” had been contributed by folks who subsequently purchased the plantation and experienced devastation from fires. Thanks to devoted research, it has been determined the structure still standing was only the Monroe’s Guest House and the house which James and Elizabeth lived in is what burned down!

Now that we know their abode is gone (they are excavating the recently unearthed foundation as I write this review), they have properly noted you are only touring the guest house, and returned the estate’s name to Highland, as Monroe named it. The mystery was unraveled using dendrochronology, a fascinating technique for determining the precise years when a piece of wood was a living tree. By examining spacing between rings, which are indicative of activity such as drought years, experts are able to work backwards through time – once you identify a pattern you relay it back to older and older pieces of wood (i.e., the pattern at the beginning of a hundred year old tree might be at the end of another, so now you have that piece’s dates and keep leap frogging in reverse). While performing restoration work on the guest house they calculated the lumber had been harvested in 1818. The main house had been raised in 1799 and tax records show Monroe added a guest house in 1818.

Though not the Monroe's home, this is still a great tour. Entrance fee is $14 per adult, though we were tickled to start our day here and discover an early-bird special for only $10 (before 10AM). You may amble about the plantation at your leisure, with guided tours of the Guest House beginning every hour and lasting about forty minutes. Our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about Monroe, and the Guest House splendidly decked out in genuine period pieces, many of which were owned by the family.

Like Monticello, this is lovely country and the grounds are well maintained. It was a pleasure just walking around the property, but there are buildings beyond the Guest House to explore, including a smokehouse, slave quarters, overseer’s house, ice house, etc. These were also appointed quite nicely and several staffed with young volunteers, similarly in command of their facts and charismatic about the history they were sharing.

After parking, your first stop is the Museum Shop, which was chock full of books and souvenirs. Somewhat atypical of other presidential homes, this venue was scanty on informational displays or videos about Monroe. This is not a complaint, just an observation.

Though I visited Monticello and Highland separately (and several years apart), I will point out you are able to purchase a combo ticket for both - the Neighborhood Pass. Looks like it would save $6 per person and the sites are within three miles of one another, so something to consider.
The Guest House at Highland (thoug…
The Visitor's Center at Highland
President James Monroe at his High…
Highland view.
11 / 11 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
aloneinthecrowd says:
Congrats on your featured review, Vance :)
Posted on: Aug 27, 2017
gingerbatik says:
congrats Vance:)
Posted on: Aug 27, 2017
vulindlela says:
Posted on: Aug 27, 2017
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