Home > Famous houses in america > Monticello


Monticello- Viginia Worldhouseinfo

Monticello is the estate of Thomas Jefferson located near Charlottesville, Virginia. The house, of Jefferson's own design, is situated on the slope of a small hill (his "monticello") in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap. An image of the west front of Monticello is featured on the reverse of the 5 cent coin of the United States of America, and on the version of the back side of the two dollar bill that was printed from 1928 to 1966.

Work began on Monticello in 1768, and Jefferson moved into the South Pavilion (an outbuilding) in 1770. The original style was based on the classical style of Palladian architecture with which Jefferson became familiar during his studies at The College of William and Mary . The original design was largely completed (except for porticoes and decorative interior woodwork) when Jefferson left in 1784 for extended travels in Europe representing the new Republic of the former British American colonies, Jefferson expanded his vision for Monticello to incorporate features of buildings and ruins he admired in his travels. Further work to the new design began in 1796, and the building of Monticello is considered to have been substantially completed in 1809 with the erection of the dome.

The Jefferson family sold Monticello to James T. Barclay, a local apothecary, in 1831, who quickly sold it in 1834 to Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish American to serve an entire career as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy and who greatly admired Jefferson. The house was seized by the Confederate government and sold, but recovered by the Levy family and acquired by a private, nonprofit organization, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in 1923. Monticello is now operated as a museum and educational institution. Visitors can view rooms in the cellar and ground floor, but the top two floors are not open to visitors.

Monticello is the only home in the United States of America that has been designated a World Heritage site. This designation also includes the original grounds of the nearby University of Virginia, also designed by Jefferson. Called the Academical Village by Jefferson, Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., a University of Virginia historian, has written a fine dissertation on the construction of the original buildings at the University of Virginia. Jefferson also had a home near Lynchburg, Virginia called Poplar Forest and designed Virginia's capitol building in Richmond.

Much of the interior decoration and fitting reflect the ideas and ideals of Jefferson himself. The original main entrance is through the portico on the east front. The ceiling of the portico incorporates a dial connected to a weather vane on the room, showing the direction of the wind, and a large clock face (with hour hand only: Jefferson thought this was accurate enough for outdoor labourers) on the external east-facing wall reflects the time shown on the "Great Clock" (designed by Jefferson) in the entrance hall. The entrance hall contains articles collected by Lewis and Clarke on their famous expedition, and the floorcloth in the entrance hall is painted grass green, since Jefferson wanted it to feel as if he were still in the outdoors when he walked in the door.