Driving to Monticello from DC does not take more than a couple of hours. Monticello, which is Thomas Jefferson’s home, is in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The highway between DC and Charlottesville is smooth, more straight than windy, flanked by trees, and carpeted with ivy that reaches from the Virginia soil and spirals up and along the trunks and branches creating a thicker canopy of tree tops.
We drove through many counties, never seeing fencing between properties, playing license plate games, and laughing at the peculiarity of the county name, Fauquier, especially when we drove past the Fauquier Motel.
Yet, Monticello was our destination, and we hoped to arrive for the last house tour before day’s end.
Jefferson inherited 5000 acres from his father at the young age of 21 years and he set about to build the house, where he and his family spent so many of his future years.
Tickets to various tours are $28 and the money goes to the maintenance of Monticello and I believe other World Heritage sites. A good percent of the original Monticello structure actually remains. Once you purchase your tickets at the visitor center you are taken up to the house to enjoy the grounds and the views that Jefferson enjoyed in his beloved Virginia.
Cameras are not allowed in the house during the tour of Monticello, which begins in the entry hall. I did, however, take photos from the brochure I received when purchasing tickets. (Sorry for the creasing in the pictures, the brochure was folded.) The entry hall is a grand two story room, filled with many Native American artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition. The artifacts are displayed among many other curiosities in the hall, including a clock invention of Jefferson’s that displays both the hour and the day.
Our house tour continued through the Parlor and Jefferson’s study and bedchamber. In the study Jefferson wrote thousands of letters and also copied them. The letters were copied with a polygraph machine that is a copying machine with two pens. When Jefferson put pen to paper another pen made a copy of the letter.
Jefferson’s bedroom or bed was built into an alcove between the study and the bedroom. The idea was a space saving design and Jefferson built it to exactly one inch longer than his own height. Jefferson would die in his bed on July 4th, 1826, fifty years to the day after the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The house tour takes about 45 minutes and there are other tours that can be taken, however we arrived too late in the day to participate in them. One of the tours focuses on slavery at Monticello, as Thomas Jefferson did own slaves. I’m not going to put my thoughts regarding this towering figure of liberty, yet a slave owner, on that subject into this blog as I can imagine you all know how I feel about this horrible reality of United States history. Instead, I’m adding a photo of the Hemings cabin in juxtaposition to Jefferson’s bedchamber photo. Sadly, I do believe Jefferson’s study and bedchamber to be larger than the cabin.
Jefferson’s burial site is also on the grounds of Monticello along with the Jefferson Family Cemetery. The family cemetery is still used today. The walk to Jefferson’s gravesite is about 1/2 mile from the house winding on a path lined with trees and benches for rest.
It is a somber moment when one arrives at the grave of Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, one of the Framers of the the US Constitution, author of the Declaration of Independence, and third President of the United States. Yet, he chose his own epitaph, which deliberately excluded his Presidency.
Many, toss coins onto Jefferson’s grave as a way to make sure Jefferson has money to pay for his after-life ferry ride. Tim and I did so also, as we have much to be thankful for living in the most magnificent country on Earth.