Monday, May 20, 2013

My Visit to Monticello

I have been very bad at updating my blog with my adventures, but I heard it's better late than never.

A few weeks back, Jeff and I visited Monticello.  If that is not ringing a bell then allow me to enlighten you with the proper name of Thomas Jefferson's home.  I had previously visited Monticello about 8 years ago and although much had not changed, there were a few new things I learned.

Monticello lies on the top of a hill in Charlottesville, it is quite chilly and windy to visit in early Spring!  During our visit, we noticed that the back of the home was undergoing some restoration efforts.  They were actually removing the paint off the columns.

Who knew that the columns were not originally white?  I found the below sign really informational!  It states that at one point, the southwest portico was unfinished and it was held by tree trunks.  Can you imagine that?  Nuts!

 It was later learned that when the house was sold by the Jeffersons, the columns were painted white.

 The view from the South is quite beautiful. There are plenty of flowers and there is a large fish pond. 

 Sadly this pond is now fish-less.  However, during Jefferson's time they would actually keep a large stash of fish for easy access.  Smart!  However, quite unfortunate for the fish :(

The view from Monticello is beautiful.  On one side you can see trees, farms and the mountains in the distance.  The other side views UVA.  I learned during my visit, that Jefferson was a bit of a micro manager and enjoyed peering down on campus. 

This photo is taken past Mulberry row.

In case you didn't know, Monticello was a plantation.  It was the home of many workers enslaved and free.  Most of which lived and worked off Mulberry Row.  Unfortunately, most of the buildings are no longer in tact.  Although some of the buildings are no longer present, stories of those that lived and worked on Mulberry row are still being retold today.  During our visit, we learned a lot about the enslaved families that lived at Monticello.  Although it was very sad and tough to hear, it was, very informative.  The tour guide that did the slavery tour was excellent.  She almost teared up retelling one of the stories about a family that was separated after Jefferson's death. 

This photo is taken from Mulberry row facing the side of the home.  The way Jefferson designed the home, created cellars under the home.  Since water was scarce on the hill top, the terrace roofs were also designed in such a way that would drain water into large rain barrels.

The little building to the left side of the above image is the original building that Jefferson lived during the construction of the Monticello we see today.  Believe it or not Jefferson, his wife and baby, all lived there during the years the main building was being constructed.  Talk about tight quarters!
As you walk up to the house for the tour, you are asked to take note of the weather bane on top of the house.  Under the portico, we notice there is a compass that is directly tied to the weather bane.  Smart.  Jefferson only had to take one step outside the house and look up to see what direction the wind was blowing. 
Next, as a visitor you are asked to take note of the clock.  As you can see in my photo, the clock only has the "hour hand."  When you step inside, on the other side is the same clock but it has the "minute hand." It's weird, but interesting.
The house itself is pretty interesting to see. Sadly, photos are not permitted inside. The lobby of the house is nothing like you will see in any other historical home. There are dinosaur bones, buffalo hides, dead animal heads mounted on the wall, and a mini Native American exhibit. I am linking a photo to demonstrate what I am talking about.
 My favorite thing about the house is probably the little mechanisms Jefferson added. If he were around today, he would be a huge techy with all the coolest new apps, and gadgets. He has a mechanism that will open one side of french doors by merely touching the other door. It's pretty cool and advanced for the time. Not to mention there is a giant calendar that tells which day of the week it is. 
 Overall, I recommend a visit to Monticello.  Make sure you have plenty of time to explore the grounds, house, and learn about the history of the families that lived there. 

Bye, Monticello - until next time!

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