Nestled in the heart of Virginia sits Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The home is maintained as a historical landmark and is open to tourists. The house, located in Charlottesville, Va., is an architectural wonder.
Jefferson took his time building this grand home, over 40 years, according to records. This founding father clearly took pride in constructing his ideal house. Initially, the house (all floors) was intended to have 14 rooms, but the final model had over 40 rooms.
In spite of having changed his mind mid-build to reflect changing styles, the final result is gorgeous.
Today tourists can experience a visit inside the home and explore the vast property that remains of the Monticello plantation. In addition to touring the home and gardens, on the property there is a movie theatre, hands-on discovery center for the kids, museum, and much more. A whole day can easily be spent at Monticello to explore and learn about this era in U.S. history.
Kids can get a hands-on experience of various aspects of life during Thomas Jefferson's time at the Discovery Center
The history of Monticello is tightly entwined to U.S. Colonial history. Throughout the property, there are many areas available to tour and learn the stories that unfolded during this period of time, including the Jefferson family and the history of the hundreds of people that lived on the plantation, both free and enslaved. The story told at Monticello also delve into the cultural aspects of this era.
Unlike the remains of some of the other wealthy homes of this period that leave behind some history, often this comes with a degree of speculation. However, Jefferson's meticulous habit of documentation provides a very detailed history. No photography was permitted in the museum, however there are many items that shared history of this past era, including detailed family trees.
For me, the highlight of any of these types of tours is typically viewing the interior of homes, and Monticello's main house is no exception. Jefferson's visions and innovations are clear both inside and outside of the grand structure. In terms of architecture, Monticello is probably one of my favorites I've visited so far.
One of the side views of Monticello's main house. To the right is a porch-like room, to the left, a glass enclosed room that is similar to an outdoor garden patio, but inside. The white entryway to the far right is the home's main entrance.
Located outside the main house, this structure is labeled an "air tunnel" to vent out inside privies. Many privies during this time, such as at George Washington's Mount Vernon, were located outside and away from the house.
View of the main house and its reflection from the back yard. This body of water was where fish, caught in nearby streams, were placed until it was time to prepare them for meals.
It is always interesting for me to see the interior of older mansions and what contents are inside that may have belonged to the original owners. The inside of Monticello's main house is remarkable. No photography allowed inside, however.
Jefferson's tastes were eclectic, with his entry showing his interest in westward expansion, exploration, and technology. Many of Jefferson's original pieces still remain, including a large clock he'd designed which is on display in the entrance hall. His library boasted several large bookcases of books from floor to ceiling, and his dining room showcases sliding glass doors separating a tea room; it also contained a wine dumbwaiter.
On my visit, the upstairs was not a part of the tour, but the guide told me that there are special tours that can be booked to see the upper floor.
The exterior of the house and the grounds of the property are also spectacular. While much of the gardens appeared to be past peak for this time of year, there were still many blooms. I spent several hours on the property and left feeling there was still much more to see.
View of some of Monticello's gardens. In the distance you can see a brick structure. Somewhere along the journey of the day someone referred to it as Jefferson's "Thinking Room". Standing inside looking at the view, it is easy to see where vision can be inspired.