Friday, July 8, 2011


Back to my trip. I have a stack of postcards over an inch high from all the places that we went. I think this was one of my favorite places we went. We had walked through a few historic houses before and some of them weren't so amazing; I kept my expectations low. But even if I had high expectations I would have loved it. Now get ready for a history lesson. 


Monticello is the house that Thomas Jefferson designed, built and lived in. It is on the top of a mountain that he visited often when he was a child. When he was married, he and his wife lived in little Monticello which was a small house while Thomas Jefferson built the real one. He said that he loved tearing things down and building up again. The house was constantly under construction. 

Jefferson never had formal architecture training. He learned it from books. And he had some unusual viewpoints. LIke he didn't think stairs should be the main point of the house. So this house has two very narrow and very steep stairs that seem to be hidden. 

The thing I like most about Thomas Jefferson is that he had so many interests and pursued all of them. The house is full of inventions by him. And the grounds are full of his hobbies. (Of course he had about 200 slaves to help him pursue all his interests.)

My favorite part of the grounds was the garden. It was huge. I would say at least 2 or 3 football fields long. The garden is still kept today and has every single type of vegetable and herb you can think of is planted there. 

Thomas Jefferson and most of his family is buried on the grounds. The cemetery is still used today and descendants can still be buried there. He wrote the words on the tombstone which shows us what he felt his most important accomplishments are. "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of University of Virginia."

You can see the University of Virginia from the top of Monticello. Jefferson wanted to be known as the "father" and not the "founder" because he was so involved and really put his all into the design and set up of the school. 

Jefferson and his wife were only married for 10 years before she died; he never remarried. And only one of his children lived to adulthood. He also only bought a handful of slaves in his lifetime. Most of them he inherited from his father and father-in-law. When he bought slaves it was to complete a family or because he needed a specific trade done at Monticello. It was a place that was mostly self-sufficient. However, Jefferson did eventually go into debt because he bought so many books.  

And finally, Jefferson argued for the elimination of slavery, but only freed a handful of slaves in his lifetime. 


JAM said...

This was one of my favorite stops also! I think Jefferson was a man born before his time! I love the house and all the unique things he did to it. Not to mention it is on the back of the nickle!