The most popular Charlottesville VA home is Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. The thousands of visitors to the former president’s home each year include historians, architectural students, gardeners, and tourists looking for an authentic introduction to Jefferson’s amazing life.
The Monticello plantation grounds include the main home, a vineyard, vegetable gardens and flower gardens, remnants of slave quarters, and even a cemetery where Jefferson asked to be buried. The architecture of the house itself is a blend of neoclassic details that Jefferson created from his impressions of European buildings. There are classic columns, underground walkways between buildings, and an octagonal dome on the west side of the home…. plus many interior features that were unique for Jefferson’s time.
Altogether the main home (including the cellars and work spaces below the house) were about 11,000 square feet. There are approximately 33 rooms in the main home. The home was built and then renovated several times during the late 1700’s, but at one point it’s said that Jefferson estimated the value of the house for insurance purposes at $6,300 in 1800.
Among my favorite features are the foyer clock… which actually descends into the lower level of the house… and Jefferson’s library which adjoined his bedroom and contained thousands of books which he read in the ‘original’ languages in which they were written, including English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. Jefferson’s range of topics was vast… political history, theology, architecture, botany, physiology, science etc. And I think his invention of making duplicate copies of his writings simultaneously while writing with two connected pens is pure genius (maybe you need to see it to understand?).
Jefferson was an innovative gardener with a keen interest in botany and plants. He created vineyards that included grape varieties from his European travels. He experimented with hybrid plants and vegetables in his vast garden that overlooks the mountain valley. In fact, you can purchase his heirloom seeds at Monticello’s gift shop, and online nursery plants are available for shipping after September.
Allow at least 2 hours if you plan to visit Monticello. You’ll enjoy every minute of it.