Monticello - Jefferson's Home - 2009
It was a pretty ride into Monticello.
The Dogwoods were in bloom making for an attractive entrance to the grounds.
The African-American Graveyard was just off the parking lot as you walked to the visitor center. Most of Jefferson's slaves came to him by inheritance from his father and father-in-law. Some Monticello slaves are buried in this cemetery adjacent to Jefferson's deer park, now the visitor parking area.
The visitor center was where you purchased your tickets, the theater presented a film THOMAS JEFFERSON'S WORLD, other exhibits were in the Smith Gallery and a museum store. After purchasing our tickets for the (2:20pm) tour, we began our visit by watching the film. We then caught the shuttle up the mountain to the house area, where we spent most of our time.
Monticello is the only presidental home that is a World Heritage Site.
From the shuttle bus stop at the top of the hill, we could see Monticello.
Monticello, which means "little mountain" in Italian, was a house, an ornamental landscape, a diverse community that included as many as 140 enslaved men, women, and children and a plantation.
The grounds were spectacular. The spring flowering trees were in full bloom.
The orchard and gardens were both a source of food for the family table and a kind of laboratory where Jefferson experimented with different species of fruits and vegetables.
Jefferson used the Garden Pavilion as a retreat for reading and overseeing his plantation. Windows on all sides opened for ventilation.
The pavilion and the view from inside the pavilion.
This is a little hard to read but this it tells the story of
and shows the location of buildings not currently there.
The barrier . . .
The west side of the house and west gardens were beautiful. The circle path was lined with flowers. It was a great time of the year (late April) for our visit.
In retirement, the gardens became a living laboratory for Jefferson for the study of plants from all around the world. He chronicled a lifetime of gardening activities in his Garden Book.
The outside of the house was open for unsupervised touring.
Fish were caught locally and kept alive in this pond until needed.
The time for your house tour was specified on your ticket when you purchased it. A group went in the house every ten minutes. We found out that the reason for the small groups and strict control was that one of the rooms was too small for larger groups.
Each group was called five minutes in advance and off you went at your appointed time.
Mary Lou had read about the plantation clock. It chimed the hour outside of the house loud enough for the slaves to hear it in the fields. Inside the weights were mounted so that they passed the days of the week written on the wall, so people inside could tell the day of the week. The clock was originally in Jefferson's Philadelphia home and when moved to Monticello the ceiling wasn't tall enough to accommodate the weights, so a hole was cut in the floor. Sunday through Friday markings were on the wall on the main floor. The weight went through the floor for Saturday.
Photography was not permitted inside the house. Later, we will show you the "Saturday" marking in the passageway under the house. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has an excellent Web site, www.monticello.org with lots of information, and pictures of the house.
The north Pavilion . . .
An interesting tree . . .
The functional areas of the house including kitchen and food and drink storage cellars were not in the house but connected to the house by passageways. Jefferson called them "Dependencies". They were concealed in the hillside to avoid obstructing the landscape around the house. During Jefferson's time these spaces included a wash house, carriage bays, an ice house, two privies, a wind cellar and other storage cellars, a kitchen, a smokehouse, a dairy, and three rooms for slaves. Today, only a few are restored and open for viewing.
The smoke house . . .
The cook's room . . .
The kitchen . . .
The storage cellar . . .
Remember the plantation clock? In the 'basement' of the house, the hole in the floor (the ceiling here) and the Saturday marking were visible.
The beer cellar . . .
A quarter mile trail down hill from the house is Jefferson's grave. You can walk to it, or the shuttle stops for a quick look. We chose not to walk down because rain was eminent.
Jefferson is buried on the property with other members of his family in a graveyard chosen by him in 1773. The epitaph he wrote for his tombstone includes only: "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia."
On the way out, we stopped by the museum shop. It was a gift shop of mostly historical mementos. Jefferson's Ten Rules were printed on Parchment paper - one of many items available for purchase..
The Robert H. and Clarice Smith Gallery is an education center. In addition to art objects, on the main level were exhibites about the man and his house. There were more exhibits on the upper and lower levels that we did not visit.
It was 'his' house.
ALERT FOR RVers . . . RV parking and bus parking were in the same area. Both were designed for you to pull in against a cement bumper and back out. An employee told us , "there might be space in the other lot, good luck". Fortunately, it was not busy and nine spots in a row were available.
We spent about four hours at Monticello. While there was more to see in the educational center, we were satisfied with our visit. The entrance fee was $13 per person. It is operated by a private foundation so no discounts or entry cards are accepted.
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