Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson

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201 East Market Street, Charlottesville, VA, USA - (434) 296-9979

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville Reviews

spocklogic spocklog…
325 reviews
An Essay in Architecture Nov 05, 2016
Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States (1801-1809). Jefferson began the design and construction of Monticello at the age of 24 in 1768, living there from 1770 until his death in 1826. At Jefferson’s request, he is buried on the property in an area designated as the Monticello Cemetery. The house was built and remodeled over a period of 40 years in what Jefferson reflected on as the pleasure of "putting up and pulling down”. Jefferson himself called this designing, dismantling and reimagining his estate as an “essay in architecture”. The land the house is built on was inherited from his father and located on the top of a hill young Thomas had explored as a boy, an 850 ft (260 m) high peak at the summit in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. In fact the name Monticello comes from the Italian for "little mount”. Two subjects that stand out quite evidently when visiting Monticello are architecture and the science of horticulture, a couple of the great passions for Thomas Jefferson.

The House - It is remarkable that Jefferson knew of architecture only from books and had never been formally schooled in this skill. Being a person who was a great admirer of the classical world, Jefferson emulated the Renaissance designs of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, who was heavily influenced by Roman and Greek architecture. During Jefferson's years in Europe (1784-1789) serving as Minister of the United States to France, he had opportunity to observe many classical style buildings and was also exposed to the various trends in French architecture of the times. A major remodeling began around 1794 and continued during the time he was president (1801-1809). While mostly completed at the end of his presidency in 1809, Jefferson continued to tinker with the home until his death, though in his final few years the property mostly went without repair due to Jefferson's many debts. The home itself, in its final form, drew inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome and the resemblance is unmistakable. Andrea Palladio himself built many churches, villas, palaces, and government building during his career, and though he never copied the Pantheon directly, he had studied it so completely that the design had some influence on nearly all of his works. So it must have been for Jefferson also in his architectural designs, having thoroughly studied the works of Andrea Palladio, evident by the Roman and Greek styles.

The Grounds - Like architecture, Jefferson had no formal education in horticulture, but was quite active in experimentation in this area. On the grounds are both ornamental and vegetable gardens, two orchards, a vineyard and an 18-acre forest grove included in his landscape plan. During his lifetime, Jefferson experimented with hundreds of varieties of vegetables and herbs, including 20 varieties of the English pea, his favorite vegetable. Many of the vegetables Jefferson cultivated are still grown today in the 1000-foot garden. Jefferson was a meticulous note taker and his gardens at Monticello are one of the most documented of American gardens. In addition to the vegetables, Jefferson also experimented and grew many varieties of fruit, a mixture of things from the Old World (European) and New World (Colonial). Jefferson was less successful with his vineyards and failed to produce the quality needed for making wine, but this struggle was not uncommon in Colonial America. Jefferson's estate was essentially a botanic laboratory with regards to flowers, consisting of ornamental and useful plants from around the worlds.

Info - Monticello is owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization formed in 1923 to purchase, preserve and maintain Monticello as a national monument to Thomas Jefferson. Monticello is located on Route 53, three miles southeast of Charlottesville. In 1987 Monticello along with the nearby University of Virginia were co-designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monticello has appeared on U.S. coins (nickel from 1938 to present), paper money (2 dollar bill from 1928-1966) and stamps (20 cent from 1954-1961). Monticello remains perhaps one of the most iconic and widely recognized homes in the United States.

"I am as happy no where else and in no other society, and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Monticello Visitors Center
Monticello Visitors Center
Monticello Visitors Center
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
starship1 says:
Visited Monticello a few years ago for the 2nd time while visiting UVA -- it was as fascinating as Jefferson himself. Congrats on having today's featured review!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2017
Paulovic says:
Congrats on your featured review, well done Brian!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2017
pfsmalo says:
Nice well written review Brian. Unfortunately the only Monticello that I know is the one in Utah near Canyonlands.
Posted on: Oct 29, 2017
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vances vances
582 reviews
I declare this is great Nov 28, 2015
A really brilliant site. I was aware Thomas Jefferson was the architect of Monticello and labored long and hard over the construction of his home, but I never appreciated the equal effort devoted to landscaping the grounds. You cannot help but be impressed by the beauty as you drive in to the estate, and it only gets better as you immerse yourself.

Once on the grounds, you park at the Visitor Center. A nice facility, it comes complete with a theater (where you can view a fifteen minute introductory video), a gallery (featuring displays devoted to Jefferson’s life and persona) and a discovery room (hands on exhibits aimed at youngsters). There’s also a café and gift shop here, but that needs no mention.

Monticello sits about a fifteen minute walk above the Visitor Center, though there is constant shuttle bus service to the top. Now it is decision time, as you need to decide which tour or tours to choose. Most folks will opt for the Day Pass and House Tour ($20 per adult Nov-Feb; $25 Mar-Oct), which lets you walk over the entire grounds and includes a guided walk through the mansion. I upgraded to the "Behind the Scenes” house tour ($45/$55), which is more in depth and gets you up to the second floor of Monticello (including the Dome Room). Either of these passes permit you to join the Gardens and Grounds and/or Slavery at Monticello tours, which begin at scheduled times each day.

I felt “Behind the Scenes” was worth the additional charge. Not only did the group size seem a bit smaller, the pace was more leisurely. I noticed how folks on the standard tour seemed to be herded through, while our guide never failed to pause for questions and would not proceed to the next room before all were satisfied.

Venturing upstairs at Monticello was quite interesting. The stairwells are exceeding narrow and steep – Jefferson was no fan of broad staircases, recognizing how much square footage they robbed from functional space. They have done a splendid job of acquiring many original pieces of art and furniture from the time Thomas actually lived here (some are on loan, explaining the ban on photography indoors), so I was tickled when our guide exclaimed “I know I keep saying ‘hands off’ everything, but please grab onto the railings when going up the steps”! The other bonus is that photos are permitted in the Dome Room since it was unadorned.

There is so much fascination with Monticello. Between the many ingenious details Jefferson connived, to the artwork, to the guide’s sharing of life and times (a ton of famous people came to visit), it is overwhelming. And there is so much more. Beyond the beautiful ornamental landscaping, Jefferson was a devoted agronomist and his gardens were a lovely laboratory. Not to mention there are two vineyards here! Among the blots on Jefferson’s biography are his slave ownership and relations with Sally Hemings, but both of these are dealt with openly, honestly and with no bias towards justifying Jefferson’s actions.

Monticello is a must see and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
A wonderful structure - difficult …
Lovely pond in back yard at Montic…
Approaching Monticello
I had to go inside and sit in this…
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vances says:
Need to pay for that Visitor Center!
Posted on: Dec 30, 2015
spocklogic says:
They really jacked up the price on this place. Was $12 in the early 2000's including a 30 minute tour.
Posted on: Dec 29, 2015
tj1777 tj1777
379 reviews
Monticello - home of Thomas Jefferson Oct 17, 2008
Just outside the small town of Charlottesville Virginia you will find one of only three buildings made by Europeans in the USA which has made it to the UNESCO world heritage list. It is Monticello - the building is a nice old southern building. But then again in Virginia you got plenty of this kind of buildings spread all over the state without even being close to the UNESCO list.

What set Monticello apart from the other old buildings in the south is its former occupant - Thomas Jefferson - who design the house himself and using it as a prototype for the architecture of the University of Virginia and later the dome was also used at the Jefferson memorial in Washington DC not to mention most people have actually seen the house one the US dime which use Monticello.

You can only go in and visit the house on a tour and there are no photos inside. When you get to the entrance to the house you will get a timeslot for your tour of the house and you need to be there at the specified time or you miss your tour of the house. Usually you will have to wait quite a while before you can get into the house and in the mean time you can go and explore the grounds surrounding the house. I went on a tour of the slave life on the plantation which sounded really interesting but the guide was not all that inspiriting and the whole thing ended up in a bit of a sales speech to get people to buy souvenirs so they could buy up more of the original plantation land.

The main attraction is the house anyway and inside there is a display of the house which they have tried to restore to the days of Jefferson. Of course this has not been entirely possible given someone else owned the house for a long time and many of the furniture's and paintings would be spread around. But today the building display a huge house which shows the way the rich Virginian farmers lived during the first half of the 18th century. The house is quite impressive with big rooms and furniture from the period.

No visit to the house would be complete without a visit to the underground part of the house and the slave quarters which is an integrated part of the house - so well integrated that you will hardly notice the slave quarters when you just take a quick look at the house itself. Your last stop as you go back to your car should be the graveyard of the Jefferson family - the only part of the estate which is still owned by the Jefferson family.
Monticello - and the famous dome
The veggie garden
Looking out from the veggie garden
The main entrance to Monticello
wildntexas says:
Great write up! The only thing I can add from my experience is that they give plantation tours that teach the participants about slave life at Monticello. Also, dogs are allowed everywhere at Monticello, except inside the buildings.
Posted on: Jun 20, 2010
Andy99 Andy99
623 reviews
Sep 22, 2007
Monticello is the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, founder of the University of Virginia, and third President of the United States. Jefferson built his home in the rolling hills outside Charlottesville, Virginia. A visit to Monticello will provide insight into the mind of this individual who was endlessly interested in everything in the world about him. The beautifully balanced house itself shows his thinking about and tinkering with architecture and organizational efficiency. His library and scientific instruments demonstrate interest in the natural world and in human rights (despite the fact that he was a slave owner). A large collection of "travel trophies," both his own from Europe and from the Lewis and Clark Expedition adorns the house. The grounds also bear his imprint, from the gardens to the arrangement of farm industries along Mulberry Row. Monticello may be the ultimate historic house to visit in the United States. It is a must see.

Monticello was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The interior of the house may be visited only via a guided tour. The admission ticket will also specify the time of the house tour. The grounds are open to individual exploration, or there are also tours avaiable. You must ride a shuttle bus from the parking area to the entrance but you may walk back down or ride.

Admission is $15.
Africancrab says:
Incredible, thanks for sharing. One place I should like to visit
Posted on: Jan 07, 2010

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