Monticello: Charlottesville, VA - 09/28/2012

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Today was a busy and fun day.  We started out at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  This sprawling plantation sits atop a mountain area that originally included 5,000 acres that Jefferson inherited from his father, Peter Jefferson.  This is the home you see on the back of a nickel. 

Thomas Jefferson was an interesting man.  He wrote his on epitaph, which calls him the author of the Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia.  But these were only a few of his accomplishments.  I won't go into more detail here, but he is worth reading more about at The White House website.

Monticello is a beautiful home designed by Jefferson himself.  During his presidency, he reworked and redesigned parts of the home.  It took over forty years to build to its completed state as it stands today.

Visitors aren't allowed to photograph anything in the home itself, so we don't have any pictures from that.  The entry way is decorated with maps of not only Virginia, but the United States as it was in those days and South America.  There also hangs a set of elk antlers that the famous explorers Lewis and Clark brought back to Jefferson.  There are also other animals mounted in there, as well as Native American artifacts and reproductions of dinosaur bones that Jefferson collected.

Next was his library and study.  Jefferson loved books, and originally donated over 20,000 books to start the Library of Congress.  He missed them so much he began collecting them again.  The home has accurate copies of the books he owned, but also has a dozen or so books that were actually his.  Adjacent to the study was his bedroom, where he also died.

The remainder of the bottom floor houses the dining room and a guest room, frequented by James and Dolley Madison.  The upper floors can only be viewed by special tour, so we didn't get to see those.

Laundry room

Below the home is the cellar, which included all the areas the slave labor worked in.  This included the kitchen, ice house, stables, carriage house, wine and beer storage, the dumbwaiters that served the main floor, plus much more.  Monticello's design had a series of underground walkways so that you could walk from one end to the other without getting wet.

A view of the gardens

The slaves homes line an area known as Mullberry Row.  The gardens at Monticello are extensive and beautiful, even today.  We enjoyed just roaming around the grounds.

Jefferson's grave

We headed down the hill to the Jefferson family cemetery, where Jefferson, his wife, and children are buried.  After that we caught the shuttle back to the Visitors' Center at the bottom of the mountain.

Entry way to Ash Lawn

When we finished there, we headed two miles down the road to Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of the fifth president, James Monroe.  The entry road was lined with huge trees in beautiful colors...fitting for a president for sure.  It was raining, so we kept our visit here short.

A short thirty miles or so up the road is Montpilier, James and Dolley Madison's home.  What a fact that three presidents lived so close to each other.  Although it was getting late in the day, we decided to drive over to Montpilier to have a quick look.

Montpilier in the background

Here was another grand entrance, leading up to a fabulous view of the home and front lawn.  They were getting ready to close so we didn't stay too long.

Tomorrow we are headed to Betsy's house - should be fun!

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

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