There exists a monument or a landmark structure that is a remembrance of a person who has contributed more than a number of years of service to his/her motherland. Such persons and their influence and contribution in the society are leveled by their intentions, and the fame and respect they earn are not limited to a certain period. They die, but their legacy continues to thrive in modern times, often fascinating the present day populace. Monticello, a plantation and a legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of America, highlights the influence of this man who has also been termed as one of the “Founding Fathers” of America.
Work at the plantation started in 1768. In its initial days, Monticello was spread over an area of 5,000 acres. Jefferson shifted to an outbuilding of the plantation in 1770, followed by his wife two years later.
A decade later, Jefferson was left alone as his wife died. He decided to relocate and serve as a Minister of United States of France. This term helped him to visit and explore some of the classical structures which he had only come across in books. Following the architectural styles adapted in France, he decided to reconstruct his home in a similar fashion.
As he returned back to the States, he implemented the ideas acquired during his stay in France to remodel his old house. It was an extensive, time-consuming task that went on for around nine years, starting in 1801.
As a result of the remodeling, a central hallway and rooms were added to the existing structure. A distinctive feature of the renovated house was the octagonal dome. There was a room in the dome which was rarely used, as it used to be cold in winters and hot in summers. Jefferson decided to revamp the second floor with a personalized bedroom with mezzanine flooring.
Jefferson breathed his last in 1826, leaving the plantation and the home for his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph. By this time, the estate was burdened with heavy debts and Martha too was facing financial hurdles. She decided to sell off the property to an apothecary, who later handed it over to a Commodore of the U.S. Navy. The Commodore, Uriah P. Levy, invested his money to restore and renovate the estate.
The estate was seized by the Confederate government during the American Civil War, but was recovered back by Uriah as the war ended.
The estate went into the hands of Jefferson Monroe Levy, Uriah’s nephew, who managed to settle the lawsuit filed by other heirs for a sum of $10.050. Following the footsteps of his uncle, he left no stone unturned in preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation acquired the estate in 1923 and employed two architects for additional restoration of the property. The house was then converted into a museum though entry was restricted to the ground floor and the cellar.
Entry to second and third floor of the house is prohibited, with an exception to the dome that can be visited by opting for a Signature Tour.
Apart from being a National Historic Landmark, the house was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a title no other private home has been bestowed with.
What to Do
Visitors of Monticello have to purchase tickets for the tours held in the estate. Several tours are organized on a regular and seasonal basis at the estate. Various exhibitions held in the historical mansion allow the visitors to learn as to how Jefferson used the property as a laboratory and a ground for experiments for the betterment of the nation.
The gardens and the landscapes of the historical mansion are worth exploring. Visitors can either help themselves or opt for a guided tour of the gardens and plantations.
ensure that the visitors learn more about the property and its history before they move around.
The property is available for organizing private and corporate events.
Eat, Drink, Collect
The Cafe at Monticello, located at the visitor center, offers meals, snacks, and beverages to the visitors. With kid friendly options on the menu and lunch boxes, this cafe fulfills the gastronomical requirements of the visitors. Desserts and seasonal items are offered along with the regular meals.
The Monticello Museum Shop is where you can purchase a wide range of toys, food products, wines, souvenirs, etc.
Best Time to Visit
This historical mansion of Virginia is open to the visitors from 10:00 a.m to 05:00 p.m. It is closed only on Christmas.
How to Reach
Monticello can be reached by private vehicles or by opting for a day trip offered by the tour operators. Visitors can also reach the town through public transportation modes or by hiring a private cab.