Charlottesville, VA


Preserved plantation home of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson

MONTICELLO, says the 8th edition of Moon Virginia, “is the only house in [America] included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.” The plantation home, set on 2,000 hectares on a mountaintop 6 1/2 kilometres southeast of Charlottesville (itself 115 kilometres northwest of Richmond), was the residence of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) from the time he inherited it at the age of 26 until his death.

Moon Virginia, 8th edition

Jefferson was the third president of the United States and the author of its Declaration of Independence. His home, with its classically columned portico, “was influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture,” says the guidebook, but “included many elements that were fashionable in late 18th-century Europe and even more elements that were entirely Jefferson’s own.” His fascination with time, for example, led him to put a clock in nearly every room of the mansion.

Jefferson was also a constant tinkerer. (“Determine never to be idle,” he wrote his daughter.) He “created many unusual contraptions in his home, and some are still on display today.” Among them are his clothing rack: “Instead of climbing a ladder to reach the top of his tall closet, he created a large spiral rack with 50 arms to hold his clothing. He then turned the rack with a stick to make his outfit selection.”

Visitors can take a 45-minute guided tour of the home’s ground floor, filled with original furnishings and personal items. There is also a behind-the-scenes tour that ventures upstairs, and the Hemings Family Tour, “which shows Monticello through the eyes of the best-documented enslaved family in the country.” www.monticello.org