Tour Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Drop in on Thomas Jefferson's home this holiday season, like countless visitors did two hundred years ago. The house at Monticello, designed by Jefferson, is built in the Roman neoclassicism style. While he was living at Monticello Jefferson had visitors drop in on a regular basis, just to meet him. Some guests, like James and Dolly Madison would travel from their nearby home, Montpelier, and spend a month with Jefferson and his family. The custom of the day was to welcome all travelers and give them food and drink.
Today you will get your food and drink at the new Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center that includes a cafe and gift store along with an interactive exhibition of Thomas Jefferson's life and the workings of his estate at Monticello. This historic home and gardens is open every day except Christmas. Tickets are available now for nine Holiday Evening Tours at Monticello which include a rare visit to the third floor Dome Room. The staircase is extremely narrow in Jefferson's home and are not handicapped accessible.
There is enough to see and learn at Monticello that one visit may not be enough. The 5000 acre plantation has a detailed history of the workings of the farm and the people, slaves and free, who lived and worked there. History abound at every corner inside the house, and throughout the gardens and plantation. The entrance hall, where in Jefferson's day, like today, visitors would wait to be shown the rest of the house. Here are the original elk antlers from the Lewis and Clark expedition, maps of the world, a recreated Native American artifact wall, as it would have been when Jefferson lived. There is enough history and stories to spend hours just in the entrance hall, but there are forty-three rooms in the entire structure, not all open to the public. Inside are paintings and busts of Jefferson's friends, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and John Madison, to name a few.
Outside the tours of the plantation and gardens are filled with stories of the slaves who lived and died at Monticello, and some who escaped. There is still much discussion over the contradiction in Jefferson's stated ideals and the fact he owned slaves. Upon his death only a handful of slaves were set free, in accordance with his will. He was in debt to the point that the home and all it's furnishings were auctioned off to pay his debtors. Today an estimated 60 percent of the furnishings are original.
Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Monticello to learn more about the genius of Thomas Jefferson, principle author of the Declaration of Independence, wartime Governor of Virginia, the first Secretary of State, Vice President, President, inventor, founder of the University of Virginia, and the list goes on.