Friday, May 28, 2010

Visit to Monticello

I received a letter from a reader yesterday.

Do you do travel reports to places like Monticello? — Curious in Massachusetts.

Funny you should ask, Curious, as I went to Monticello earlier this week. I've been wanting to go for years, and a kind reader gave me a trip to Thomas Jefferson's homestead for my birthday.

Charlottesville, Virginia is about two and a half hours away from D.C., and on my trip we first stopped at the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded and designed, and is extremely pretty. See evidence below:


From UVA we went to Michie Tavern, where we had lunch, then to Monticello. We had over an hour before our tour, but there was still plenty to see:


A huge vegetable garden.


The beautiful west lawn with a circular path lined with flowers.


Close-up of a flower.


Thomas Jefferson's grave. His descendants are still buried there today.


There were also slave quarters, an ice house, and things like that. After touring the grounds, we went through the house. It was beautiful, as one would expect, but Monticello is more note-worthy for what Jefferson put in it. There's an elaborate clock that uses weights to keep a record of what day it is on the wall; a set of doors that when you start to close one, the other automatically closes; portraits and busts of notable individuals of the time so Monticello-residents would know what they looked like; a dumb-waiter strictly for wine; closets built into walls above beds so space isn't wasted.

It's a technologically-savvy house — unsurprising then, that it took Jefferson 40 years to finish it. He began when he was 26 and continued improving it. I've visited plenty of notable houses — presidents, authors, castles, palaces — but Monticello is the first one where the inhabitant has put that much thought into the house. Monticello really is Thomas Jefferson.

1 comment:

Louise said...

Such a beautiful place. I would love to be able to visit Monticello!