Monticello is actually the home of Thomas Jefferson. And at this place you can explore the house, gardens, and plantation of Monticello, the mountaintop home of the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independance.
If you perhaps think that this place looks kind of familiar to you... it is because an image of the west front of Monticello (the same direction of the shot I took pictured here) was featured on the reverse of the 5 cent coin of the United States of America coined from 1938 to 2003 (the image also returns to the reverse on the 2006 coin design). It is also on the reverse of the United States of America two dollar bill that was printed on it from 1928 to 1966.
The house is of Jefferson's own design and is situated on the summit of an 850-foot-high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. Monticello, in Italian, means "little mountain." Monticello is the only home in the United States of America that has been designated a World Heritage Site. From 1989 to 1992, a team of architects from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) painstakingly created a collection of measured drawings of Monticello.
These drawings are now kept at the Library of Congress. The World Heritage Site designation also includes the original grounds of Jefferson's University of Virginia.Thoughout the house and grounds, you can view examples of Jefferson's inventiveness like: A Moldboard Plow of Least Resistance, a Wheel Cipher (similar to the one used in the movie "The DaVinci Code"). And a Spherical Sundial.
Some of the other innnovations Employed at Monticello by Jefferson were a Revolving Bookstand, a Polygraph (Copying) Machine and Monticello's Great Clock, a Weathervane Compass Rose under the Northeast Portico. A Concave Mirror, a Dumbwaiter and even a wine Dumbwaiter. All of these things were things that Thomas Jefferson himself had either invented and or designed for his home.
When you think about all the things that he built and invented, it was strange that he ever had the time to be the President of the United States of America.
As we took our tour of this place, I just found it really great that this house was so inivative. As we went to the solarium, they showed us the windows that he had shipped from France to use in this area of the house and how really beautifully it accented the house and made you feel like you were in a garden rather than a house.
As if this house (and the Declaration of Independance were not enough) for Jefferson, on January 18, 1800, Thomas Jefferson, (then only Vice President of the United States), alluded to plans for a new college in a letter written to British scientist Joseph Priestley: "We wish to establish in the upper country of Virginia, and more centrally for the State, a University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other States to come and drink of the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us."
And that was the beginning of the University of Virginia and how it got its start in Charlottesville.
Monticello itself is located in Albemarle County in the Piedmont region of Central Virginia. Monticello is on Va. Route 53 near the intersection of Interstate 64 and Va. Route 20, approximately two miles southeast of Charlottesville, seven miles from the University of Virginia, 70 miles from Richmond, (which was were we came from to visit the house). It is also 110 miles from Williamsburg, and 125 miles from Washington, D.C.While this site is really not very close to much of anything other than Charlottesville, Virginia, it is still worth the trip if you are ever within 150 miles of the place. As famous and "larger than life" as Monticello seems, the house itself is actually no larger than a typical large home.
Jefferson considered much furniture to be a waste of space, so the dining room table was erected only at mealtimes, and beds were built into alcoves cut into thick walls that contain storage space. Jefferson's bed opens to two sides: to his cabinet (study) and to his bedroom (dressing room). But this house and our visit to it, will be to me, an awesome adventure and one that I will always remember enjoying.
"I am happy nowhere else... and in no other society, all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end... at Monticello."
~ Thomas Jefferson