Monticello Professional - Thomas Jefferson's Home

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Free History For Your Report


The legendary estate of Monticello is located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and was the self-designed residence of the third President of The United States of America, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, a famous and key figure in the founding of The United States, was also the key author of The Declaration of Independence. The name befitting this magnificent structure is appropriate; “Monticello” translates from Italian into “little mountain,” with Monticello sitting atop an 850-foot peak of the Southwest Mountains. When Jefferson began designing plans for Monticello in 1768, he wanted to incorporate elements of Palladian architecture; a classic architectural style based off of the column and portico designs of Italian architect Andrea Palladio, and a style which also enjoyed a brief heyday in Britain. While the main structure was being built, Jefferson chose to reside on the mount in a temporary outbuilding known as the South Pavilion. In 1784, while he left for extensive European travel, the majority of the structure was finished, with the exception of the outer decorative elements such as the woodwork and porticos. Upon his return, such features were added on to the design even more extensively than before, and a new building phase of the project began in 1796 to incorporate these elements. It was not until 1809, however, that Monticello was considered complete when its signature dome was added.
Thomas Jefferson was only able to live in Monticello a short time before his death on July 4th, 1826. The estate was inherited by his daughter, who experienced financial difficulties. As a result, the estate was sold by Martha Jefferson Randolph to a local pharmacist, James T. Barclay. In 1834, Monticello was sold again, this time to Uriah P. Levy, another important figure in American history. Levy was the first Jewish American to serve as a commissioned officer for his entire adult life, a goal he achieved through The United States Navy. Levy bought the house due to his great admiration for Jefferson, although it was subsequently seized in The Civil War, but reclaimed after the War by the estate of Levy, whom had died in the meantime.

The recovery of Monticello to the Levy family was a story unto itself; Levy’s nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy, was a powerful New York businessman, stockbroker, and Congressional member. A lawsuit was file in 1879, and the result was a complete buy-out of the heirs of The Civil War-era family whom had claimed the residence. Jefferson Monroe took it upon himself to care for the estate as Thomas Jefferson himself once had, restoring the gardens and intricate architecture. In 1923, Jefferson Monroe sold the estate to the non-profit Thomas Jefferson Foundation, whom turned the house into a museum after being re-decorated with era-appropriate artifacts and furniture.

Monticello was later designated a World Heritage Site (along with the original structures of the Jefferson-founded University of Virginia), the only private home in the country to have such a designation. A series of intricate, scaled drawings of Monticello created by The Historic American Buildings Survey, is also on display at The Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Other structures on the property include the North and South Pavilions, functional industrial structures, a stone weaver’s residence, and Mulberry Row, a small row of slave dwellings that were used to house slaves whom worked the 5,000-acre plantation surrounding Monticello. The top of the mountain where Monticello resides is open for visiting only from May through October, and an admission is charged. In recent years, however, lockdowns on the mountain have become more frequent due to security concerns.

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