Jefferson is a hero of mine. He wrote the Declaration of Independence, was a powerful advocate for the state not being involved in religion, and was an incredible intellectual and thinker. Oh yeah he was also the first Secretary of State for America, the second Vice-President and the third President.
What you discovered on touring his home, is also how eccentric he was, but in the very good sense. He spent 40 years designing and improving his home. He made it as efficient as possible, so he would be as productive as possible. This ranged from beds in alcoves to save space, to a rotating wall for food to be served through to a device that had two pens linked together to generate a copy of all his correspondence.
John F Kennedy in 1962 said to a dinner of nobel prize winners:
I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet.
He could also speak seven languages and was learning German in his 80s. He had a strong belief that education was vital for a strong country and society. He founded the University of Virginia.
The drive to Monticello.
A statue of Jefferson by the Visitor’s Centre.
There is a short 15 minute walk from the visitor’s centre to the Jefferson family graveyard.
Jefferson wrote the wording for his own memorial. Nowhere does it mention he was President. he was more proud of his achievements than his offices.
The graveyard is owned by the descendants of Jefferson and is still used today, with new graves added every few years.
The house had and has a huge vegetable garden.
The front of the house. He was a self-taught architect and it is a mixture of various styles. No photos from within sadly, as not allowed.
The view from the back.
Some large beautiful butterflies on the back lawn.
The smoking room for meat, which was underneath the house.
And he had his own wine cellar and a separate beer cellar!
The estate was high up in the hill was a great view stretching miles out.
The estate is around two hours from Washington DC, and a great visit. There is a 15 minute video about Jefferson, and lots of information on his legacy. Also of course some information on his six children he had with the slave Sally Hemmings.
As well as a tour of the house, you can do a slavery tour and a garden tour. Allow lots of time.