One of the many great things about living in Washington is the proximity to so much of our nation's history. Last weekend, during unprecedented warm December weather, I took a day trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, home to our third president Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson was a renaissance man and one of his many hobbies was architecture. He designed his own home, Monticello, over the course of many years and spent his retirement between here and nearby Poplar Forest, his country house he also designed (see my post of Poplar Forest from my visit there in 2009 HERE).
Jefferson was a man of many extraordinary ideas; one of which was building this classically Palladian structure on top of a country mountain overlooking Charlottesville. Interesting to note that his baby, the University of Virginia, is visible from the house down the mountain. Building here was not practical at the time (and even today). How did one get water to the top of such a tall hill in 1800? Everything had to come up and down the very steep mountain in all sorts of weather; It was worth it for the view!
One arrives at the north side of the house and into a deep entry porch which features both a clock (the chimes of which could be heard throughout his working farm) and the information from a roof mounted weather vane in the ceiling (seen above). Notice the clock isn't perfectly centered over the door!
As it is the holiday season simple & natural Christmas decorations are to be found tastefully throughout the house. I loved these wreaths featuring natural decoration; apples, pine cones, dried flowers and the like.
While a large house it is by no means a mansion; Generations of Jefferson's family lived here in his time and shared 2 privy's found on either side of the house.
Jefferson's personal accommodations were much more spacious than that of the rest of his family, including this conservatory above off his office.
The iconic rear facade has been featured on the back of the 'Jefferson' nickel since 1938 when it replaced the buffalo nickel.
As you can see we could not have asked for nicer weather, particularly in mid December: 72 degrees F and sunny!
The rear yard reminds me of his design for the University of Virginia Mall, with dependency buildings linked through walkways covering service spaces.
This unique sundial below features ears of corn, this is a farm afterall!
The passageway seen below goes underneath the house to provide access to the lower levels. It also has the advantage of keeping servants (who were slaves at Jefferson's time) out of the eye-site of the house and to provide protection from the weather.
Now with electric waterpumps it's much easier to achieve a house with such views but at the time it was a burden!
These western views are stunning at sundown.
No doors, just large triple hung windows. The bottom 2 sashes move up into the wall to allow access into the room.
Monticello if you are in the mid-Atlantic region. Charming Charlottesville offers great shopping and restaurants as well for a weekend getaway.