Charlottesville, Virginia is the home of Thomas Jefferson at Montecello and the University of Virginia. Nearby are the homes of James Madison and James Monroe.
Montecello is the home of Thomas Jefferson. In comparison with Mount Vernon, it wins hands down. The entire plantation reflects the genius of the man. He moved there with his wife and children into a one-room building with a kitchen beneath the living quarters, while the manor house was being constructed. The home, when completed, had many of the latest innovations available in those days.
His gardens are also quite remarkable. His vegetable garden was over 1,000 feet in length. He grew many varieties of vegetables from present-day heritage seeds, which his family needed. In many respects it was an experimental garden in which he tried to develop new strains of vegetables. He had a fruit orchard and an arboreal garden, importing different species of trees. Finally his informal garden was set up on the British type of garden. Today the same species plants are grown according to his plan 200 years ago.
Went to Montpelier, James Madison’s estate. In 2005 the residence was being restored to its original design. The duPonts, who had recently owned the property, made many changes to the house and to the grounds, including a steeplechase and a flat track. Thomas Jefferson was a frequent guest at the estate. Madison was the consummate farmer, while Jefferson put his two cents into some of the architectural renovations Madison included in the house.
Went back to Charlottesville to see the University of Virginia, the institution that Thomas Jefferson envisioned and built. Being there is quite an experience. The original campus consisted of the Rotunda, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. Five two-story buildings housing the staff on the upper floor and classrooms on the lower floor flank this. Between each monroe roofing contractor of these buildings are students quarters, about twelve by twelve consisting of a bed, desk and chair. The necessaries are out back. All of these buildings are used today, the student quarters going to the fourth year students based on their achievements.
The rotunda is especially beautiful. There are no rectangular rooms in the entire building. All the rooms on the first two floors are oval in shape. On the third floor is the dome room with an iris skylight. During the day the room acted as the library with recessed bookcases in the alcoves. By night, the tables were moved and the space could be used for social events. Thomas Jefferson loved to sit at one of the windows and look at his beloved Montecello, a few miles away. Today a building obstructs the view, but demolition of it is scheduled in a couple of years, restoring the view.
One final trip to Charlottesville. This time we stopped at the VC near Montecello. We watched the thirty-five minute movie about TJ and his importance in world history. The VC also contains an extensive museum, holding many of the artifacts found on Montecello.
Drove the short distance to Ash Lawn-Highland, the farm home of James Monroe. Even though this was his home for more than twenty-five years, he spent little time there, because of his service to our country. TJ was his mentor and picked the property for Monroe to build his house. Conveniently, you can look out the back door, through the gardens and see Montecello just a couple of miles away. A bit of trivia. In the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, the man holding the American flag is James Monroe.
Merriweather Lewis, William Clark and George Rogers Clark are all natives of Charlottesville. Statues commemorate their achievements. Some students are building replica keelboats of the Lewis and Clark expedition in Darden Towe Park.