05 October 2010


I had been wanting to visit Monticello since watching a movie a year or so ago on Thomas Jefferson. It is really fascinating to see, and so different probably because Monticello has so much history to it.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside, but I'll try to describe things with the help of the visitors guide.
Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743. He inherited 3,00 acres along the Rivanna River later on having a 5,000 acre holding. He marries Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772, and they only had one child, a daughter.  His wife died 10 years later in 1782.
In 1776 he drafted the Declaration of Independence with the famous words that we pretty much all have heard, "all men are created equal" with the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." He served in Congress, did diplomatic service in France for about five years, and also served as vice president under John Adams. In 1801 he was elected to be the third president with being re-elected in 1804.  In 1809 he retires to Monticello.
So now I will try to describe some of what we saw along with the history.  Monticello sits on top of a mountain with the beautiful valley surrounding it everywhere.  Jefferson spent 40 years designing, constructing and remodeling.  Monticello was two houses the guide told us.  The first was a two story eight room house. After serving in France as the American minister Jefferson came home with all sorts of ideas.  He loved the neoclassical homes he had seen so Monticello underwent changes.  He created a new second level for bedrooms, and also a dome over the west front.  Of course you can imagine the surprise from people then as they had never seen one on an American home before.  The details on the mantels, and everywhere are just fascinating!
When you arrive at the front this is what you would see.
Now, the interesting thing about this other than the clock
is this...a weather vane that is connected to the roof top.  Rather than in bad weather going out in it to see which way the wind was blowing he just stepped outside the door and looked up!  One other interesting thing which was in the hall was a clock that would show the different days of the week with the long pendulum.  By the time you got to Thursday it was on the floor so he had a hole cut in it to finish the rest of the days of the week!
When you walk into the hall which is what visitors would see when they visited him (and unless you were on really good terms with him that is where you remained) he had created a museum.  It was filled with artwork, bones, horns, and objects from Native Americans which were given to Lewis and Clark when they went on their exhibition. The parlor was the first to have a parquet floor, and the man who did it said he would not do another!!  But imagine the work that went into it back then.  The parlor was full of portraits of people that Jefferson admired.  In the dining room guests would have to serve themselves as Jefferson did not want servants around.  There is a rotating panel where food would be placed, and dishes put when the meal was finished.  This gave Jefferson time to talk politics if needed.
One interesting thing in the visitors guide talks about Jefferson being accompanied by James Hemings, a slave who was trained as a chef in Paris.
Visitors rarely saw Jefferson's suite as he had to have his privacy.  The alcove bed where he slept opened to his study and his bedroom.  He also had a library which had over 7,000 books something he said he could never do without.  He would translate for fun something from English into 5 different languages!!  Thomas Jefferson was also a big believer in people learning which is why he designed and planned the University of Virginia.  You can see the University through the woods which they still keep partially cut back for that very reason.
In his study was also a sky light, there were two of them in this house, something that was unheard of back then.
Even though the house was large it was shared with a lot of his family.  His daughter moved in with him and she had 11 children.  Then if I remember there was a sister and others making the total a little over 40 people who shared this home.  And now a few pictures that I took from the outside.
There are two walkways on each side of the house which led to a north and south pavilion.
Here is a sun dial which was used.  Jefferson loved instruments.  He used them for observing, studying, and recording nature . 
In the background of this photo you can see the long walk way to the south pavilion.
Here I am on that beautiful day.  Leaves were just starting to change.
Finally, a photo without any people in it!
The north pavilion.
A close up of the dome
Now another interesting part of the history of Monticello. You may have wondered why Jefferson had such long walkways with the pavilions on the end.  What he did was place all the working, some living, and storage underneath them and the house.  This gave the main house a lovely view of the countryside all around without being obstructed with other buildings.
There were the stables, carriage house, ice house under the north pavilion walkway
The long cellar passage, once again a north and south one with a huge ware room in the middle.
It housed a wine cellar on the north cellar passage
A beer cellar along with more storage on the south cellar passage
On the south pavilion walkway cellar was the kitchen along with the cook's room, slave quarters, smokehouse, and dairy.
As you can see the kitchen was among the best in Virginia.  They had French copper cookware to cook with.  I love the way the burners are!
I totally enjoyed the house tour and what life was like back in the 1700's/1800's.   I hope that I did not bore you too much with the history, but I learned a lot more about the life of this President than I have on any other one. My next posting will be on the outside of Monticello and the gardens.  Probably why I enjoyed it so much!!!


Donnie said...

That was a lovely visit to Monticello. You made a very good tour guide and explained so many things. Sounds like a great trip.

Julie Marie said...

What a wonderful post Ulrike! I have never been there, but would love to visit... those photos and your narrative are just incredible! Thanks so much for the tour... and you look just beautiful standing there!... xoxo Julie Marie

Mary said...

I've loved it each time I've visited. Last time, couple of years ago, we were caught in a terrible storm - thunder, lightning and rain so they let all get inside the house - what a crush of people!

Hey, you look fab in that photo!

Anja said...

Thank you for a fascinating history lesson Ulrike! I can "hear" how proud you are of yuor third president!
The world community shoul need one moore Jefferson...
So fantastic place Monticello is! Beautiful!/Anja

Madelief said...

Hi Ulrike,

What an impressive house! I must have been great walking around there and see how mr Jefferson, his family and servants once lived. I enjoyed your photographs! Your look great on it :-)!

Happy day & lieve groet,


Dianna said...

What a beautifully done post, Ulrike. Your pictures are wonderful and the history you've included make it so interesting.

We've also visited Monticello and I came away from there with a new respect for this ingenious man! Thomas Jefferson truly was gifted with a logical mind as evidenced by so many of his inventions.

Thank you for the tour!

Doris Sturm said...

Thank you so much for the historical tour and education - it felt as if I was right there. I enjoyed your trip to Monticello. I have never been and would like to go one day. Looks like you had nice weather too. Great photos and you look lovely, Silke :-)

Best Regards,

Donna said...

Oh, how beautiful! I've never been so it was wonderful to see and read your post!

God bless your grandmother! Please wish her a belated Happy Birthday from me. Thank you so much for the sweet comment you left on my STRESS post!

Have a wonderful weekend!!... Donna

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We've always wanted to visit Monticello and now, thanks to your excellent tour, we have a great preview of what's in store for us when we do make it there.

As a foodie, I'm always fascinated by the Colonial kitchens. We've been to George Washington's home Mount Vernon and in the first picture, Washington's kitchen looked about the same as this one. However, you are right about Jefferson's kitchen being among the best in Virginia. I've never seen anything like the clever burners or the beautiful cooper pots - even in Washington's kitchen.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's very nice to meet you. I'm going to have fun looking around. Looks like you love to travel!

comfrey cottages said...

It was almost as good as going there reading your post! ;0 How beautiful!! hugs

JEANNE said...

I loved this tour of Monticello. I have been there and like you I fell in love the house and the President. He was quite genius in his thinking. I was fascinated with the history and the house. You took beautiful photos.

I too am very anxious to meet you and all the bloggers who will gather at Penney's.

Thank you for your visit this morning Ulrike.
Hugs, Jeanne

Anke said...

Thank you for the wonderful tour of this interesting place. It is definitely one of the places I'd like to visit one day.

Zuzu said...

Everything I've ever read about Jefferson has been amazing! I loved your tour & I look forward to seeing the gardens! :)

Have a great day, Ulrike!
~ Zuzu

Rosine said...

Dear Ulrike, thank you for your dear words. I have seen on your Blog that you had gone away and have brought nice photos. Wishes to you also a nice week-end!

Liebe Rosinengrüße

Southern Lady said...

Great tour! You have made me want to go there myself! Carla

Rhondi said...

I want to visit Montibello some day. Thanks for taking us along with you. See you soon!

Kerri said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Monticello is beautiful and so interesting. I loved learning some of the history and am glad you took the time to include it. Jefferson was a fascinating man.
You took some wonderful photos and I enjoyed seeing the one of you.
And what a wonderful bed and breakfast you stayed in! Sounds like a memorable trip. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.
It's good that your weather has finally cooled down. Ours has been too cool! And wet. But today was perfect...sunny and mild with no rain! I spent as much time as possible outside doing fall garden chores.

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