Saturday, May 26, 2012


Thomas Jefferson is my favorite Founding Father and I was really looking forward to seeing his home. Montecello was designed and built by Jefferson and means "Little Mountain" in Italian.

Jefferson is standing guard outside, looking very wise and dapper.  The statue is life sized and he stood approximately 6'.  I was glad to know he wasn't one of the 'munchkins'.

I entered the house from this portico.  Immediately I was warned that I could not take pictures. So once again, I don't have the complete experience in photographs.  But I found the house to be very unpretentious in comparison to some of the others I have seen.  The rooms are rather small and filled with a mixture of his collections of Indian artifacts, furnishings from Europe plus those built by his own slaves,  and his experiments with gardening, science and architecture.  My daughter, Janice, would like to know that he was fascinated by--and had a collection of--Clocks!
He had a peculiar collection of paintings and I noticed that only two had religious significance.  I mention this because one of those paintings hung in the dining room overlooking the dining room table--a painting of Salome carrying the bloody head of John the Baptist on a tray!  When I asked the docent about the painting she said, "Jefferson chose his paintings to spark conversation."  I think he may have also wanted to keep people from eating too much or hanging around too long. 

He inherited the 5000 acres on the top of the mountain from his father and struggled with the ethical dilemma of how to farm it without slaves.The 150 slaves he owned were from his father and father-in-law and he never bought more.  But he also never sold any. However, some he set free.
At that time the only available labor for farming was with slaves--there was no work force to draw from. He also inherited a lot of debt from his father and debt at that time was not eliminated with a death but passed down to the heirs.  Jefferson tried his whole life to clear the debt but at his death the family had to sell Montecello to pay it off.  It was in the 1920's when the residents of the home sold it to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

This is the ruin of one of the workshops.  He had highly skilled carpenters and cabinet makers and some of the furniture and woodwork in the house shows just how talented they were.

He loved experimenting with foods and he is responsible for introducing one of the most popular foods to this country after living in Europe for awhile--Macaroni and Cheese!

One of the original out-buildings..

I could hardly wait to make the walk to his garden.  Montecello is famous for the gardens.  He grew all the food for his family and staff and experimented with new plants and trees from around the world.

The views from the garden are beautiful and the neat rows of every conceivable vegetable made me really yearn for my garden back home--which, by the way, is pretty sickly compared to this.

The following pictures are for Aunt Pauline.  I know she'll appreciate the greens and cabbages and flowers as much as I did.

There was a fruit orchard that I didn't hike down to, plus a grape arbor and a whole row of huge fig trees.

The people who now work the gardens share in the harvest.  Boy did I want to volunteer.

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