Monticello in Virginia

Saturday, 4 October 2014 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Monticello © Sudhindra/cc-by-sa-3.0

Monticello © Sudhindra/cc-by-sa-3.0

Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, who, after inheriting quite a large amount of land from his father, started building Monticello when he was twenty-six years old. Located just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, in the Piedmont region, the plantation was originally 5,000 acres (2,000 ha), with extensive cultivation of tobacco and mixed crops, with labor by slaves. What started as a mainly tobacco plantation switched over to a wheat plantation later in Jefferson’s life.

The house, which Jefferson designed, was based on the neoclassical principles described in the books of the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. He reworked it through much of his presidency to include design elements popular in late eighteenth-century Europe. It contains many of his own design solutions. The house is situated on the summit of an 850-foot (260 m)-high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. Its name comes from the Italian “little mount.” The plantation at full operations included numerous outbuildings for specialized functions, a nailery, and quarters for domestic slaves along Mulberry Row near the house; gardens for flowers, produce, and Jefferson’s experiments in plant breeding; plus tobacco fields and mixed crops. Cabins for field slaves were located further from the mansion.

Work began on what historians would subsequently refer to as “the first Monticello” in 1768, on a plantation of 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares). Jefferson moved into the South Pavilion (an outbuilding) in 1770, where his new wife Martha Wayles Skelton joined him in 1772. Jefferson continued work on his original design, but how much was completed is of some dispute.

Montecello Vineyard © flickr.com - Tony/cc-by-2.0 Monticello © Martin Falbisoner/cc-by-sa-3.0 Monticello Graveyard historical marker © Billy Hathorn/cc-by-sa-3.0 Monticello labor force © Allspamme/cc-by-sa-3.0 Statue of Thomas Jeffer on at Monticello © Fopseh/cc-by-sa-3.0 Monticello © Sudhindra/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Monticello Graveyard historical marker © Billy Hathorn/cc-by-sa-3.0
After his wife’s death in 1782, Jefferson left Monticello in 1784 to serve as Minister of the United States to France. During his several years’ in Europe, he had an opportunity to see some of the classical buildings with which he had become acquainted from his reading, as well as to discover the “modern” trends in French architecture that were then fashionable in Paris. His decision to remodel his own home may date from this period. In 1794, following his service as the first U.S. Secretary of State (1790–93), Jefferson began rebuilding his house based on the ideas he had acquired in Europe. The remodeling continued throughout most of his presidency (1801–09). Although generally completed by 1809, Jefferson continued work on the present structure until his death in 1826.

Jefferson added a center hallway and a parallel set of rooms to the structure, more than doubling its area. He removed the second full-height story from the original house and replaced it with a mezzanine bedroom floor. The interior is centered on two large rooms, which served as an entrance-hall-museum, where Jefferson displayed his scientific interests, and a music-sitting room. The most dramatic element of the new design was an octagonal dome, which he placed above the west front of the building in place of a second-story portico. The room inside the dome was described by a visitor as “a noble and beautiful apartment,” but it was rarely used—perhaps because it was hot in summer and cold in winter, or because it could only be reached by climbing a steep and very narrow flight of stairs. The dome room has now been restored to its appearance during Jefferson’s lifetime, with “Mars yellow” walls and a painted green floor.

Read more on Thomas Jefferson’ Monticello, youtube.com – MonticelloVisit and Wikipedia Monticello (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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