THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

The House on the Hill

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When Thomas Jefferson was a young man he would ride his horse to the top of a particular hill on his fathers’ property, often with his dear friend Dabney Carr and they would sit under a tree there and survey the view around them and look out toward the mountains; across all the hills and valleys. It was here that young Thomas determined he would build a house there when he was an adult and make his home in this beautiful spot.

He and his friend Dabney also made a pact that whoever should die first would be buried under their favorite tree down the hill from the house and ultimately be laid to rest next to each other.

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It came to pass that the house did get built after Thomas was married, he designed the house himself and he did create a cemetery where both the friends could be buried together as well as their families.

But there is so much more to this story as we well know.

I had the great pleasure to get to see this home that Thomas Jefferson built, loved and that he called Monticello.

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It is quite a sight when you come over the knob and it comes into view, It facade is stunning. On closer inspection it’s no wonder he wanted to build here it is so pretty and the view spectacular.

Thomas Jefferson is more than sprinkled throughout our early history and many people know he was the author of the declaration of Independence, that he became president and that he was very busy during the revolution but how many of us know the man?

Of course, we can only see him through the prism of years and what people have written about him and what he may have written himself over the years, but stepping into his home and seeing the rooms he lived in and slept in as well as his office and the desk where he did his writing really brought to life the man and what he was interested in.

Thomas Jefferson’s father died when he was still a very young which landed a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He went to college in Williamsburg, Va. at William and Mary college in which he studied a variety of subjects including law. When he enrolled he was already proficient in the classics and could read Greek and Latin. He had an incredible love of books and his collection at Monticello was huge even by today’s standards; he owned 6,487 books! His famous statement “I cannot live without books” couldn’t be more true.

The grounds around Monticello are stunning and there is a lovely lawn where they would play lawn games. Also, a large variety of flowers and shrubs to see along the edge. A lovely walking area

As you walk around you can tour the many aspects of life at that time including a cabin that slaves would have slept in. We went on a tour about slavery at Monticello and it was very interesting. I think Thomas Jefferson was for freedom but yet because of the times he lived in slavery was an engrained part of the culture at the time period he lived. We will never know for sure what he thought about it but I like to think that our father of the declaration of Independence might have been divided on this issue in his soul and wished to live at a different time or a more clear-cut way to change the world on it. Of course, that came less than 100 years later and it’s too bad it required a war to resolve it. But that is for another day.

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Part of the areas you could tour was to go under the house, see the storage and wine cellar as well as the kitchens and other work areas that would be required to run such a house and feed so many people.

The garden below the house shows an example of some of the vegetables that would have been grown at that time, of course it would have had to be much bigger to feed all the people who lived on the estate and worked there.

The house itself is a tour led by a guide, who tells you information about the house as you go along, I will say depending on when you go, if its real busy the tour will move along faster than I would have liked. If you can go at a less busy time it would be much better. They do not allow photographs inside the house so therefore I only have some post cards.

Regardless, the house is a masterpiece and even though small by some of today’s standards for a mansion; the woodworking and overall details are exquisite and lovely. One thing I did find funny is Jefferson did not build a big staircase as he felt it was unnecessary and a waste of room, so the stairway is narrow and steep which is a steep contrast to the openness of the other rooms.

When you first come into the house is an entryway with many artifacts on the wall as well as maps. The idea was to impress visitors with things from all over the world. A very unique collection of items too.

I can go on and on about this visit and home but the bottom line to really feel Jefferson, to really get a glimpse of the man, you need to go here and experience it for yourself. The tickets are rather expensive unfortunately but the money does go to preserve the estate which is important overall.

If you ever have a chance to visit this architectural masterpiece nearCharlottesville, Virginia it is well  worth the experience.Whether you spend an hour or two or spend the whole day as we did.Take a step into the history of our nation, you will not be sorry you did.

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Even my dog liked sitting on the steps of the great house and so did I. To think Thomas Jefferson and scores of other important people walked on these steps. Incredible!

 

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