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At the time of the burning of Shadwell, in 1770, Jefferson had already begun the improvement of the wooded mountain of Monticello<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

It is scarcely necessary, in Albemarle, to state that there is only one permissible pronunciation of this name "Montichello." The Italian  c" was invariable with Mr. Jefferson and his descendants.">[1] which was a part of his father's estate. A brick building of a story and a half-now the southeastern "pavilion" of the present mansion-had been completed, and he at once took up his residence there. For the next thirty years, in the intervals of wider labors, he planned and altered and re-built this dwelling.

The building of a mansion on a mountain-top in a primitive community was a tremendous undertaking. It was necessary for Jefferson to make roads, train and oversee his workmen, and to prepare on the place the greater amount of material-lumber, brick and nails. (The chimney of the "nail factory," where the nails were wrought by hand by negro boys, still stands.) An examination of the heatitiftil workmanship of walls and floors<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2

The floor of the drawing room is said to be seven inches thick, and to have been cut and fitted by hand. Native woods were used, the mahogany-colored centers of the squares being of wild cherry, and the light borders of beech. These hard and highly polished woods give no sign of wear after more than a century of use. The original cost of this floor was two hundred dollars. Sale: Manors of Virginia in Colonial Times.">[2] will illustrate the degree of skill attained by Jefferson's slaves.

It is pleasant to note the enthusiasm which this house, "elegant, in the Italian taste," produced in the foreigners who approached it through the forests of a back-woods region. "Mr. Jefferson is the first American who has consulted the fine arts to shelter himself from the weather," declares Major-General, the Marquis de Chastellux, who visited Monticello in 1782, when the structure was not complete. The Duke de Ia Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, who was Jefferson's guest for a week in 1796, writes as follows:

"Monticello, according to its first plan, was infinitely superior to all other houses in America, but at that time Mr. Jefferson had studied taste and the fine arts in books only. His travels have supplied him with models; he has appropriated theni to his design, and his house will certainly deserve to rank with the most pleasant mansions in France and England."

The exterior of this famous home is familiar to all Albemarle. Of its interior, in Jefferson's day, Mr. Mead gives the following description: "Entering from the eastern portico with its lofty Corinthian pillars and arched door, the visitor was ushered through double glass doors into a spacious semi-octagonal hall with its wide fireplace at one end, as is usually found in old English mansions. Opposite the door is a small gallery, while on one side of it stood a fine bust of the patriot himself, and on the other one of Washington. Along each side of the hall were many Indian relics which Mr. Jefferson had himself collected.

"From this hall opens another glass door leading into the drawing room or salon, being the largest and most handsome room in the house, and situated immediately under the dome. This room is also octagonal, its floor being laid in parquetry of octagonal blocks, which were cut and fitted by his own colored workmen. The walls of this stately room were adorned with portraits of Columbus, Vespuci us, Andrea Doria, Castruccio-Castracani, Raleigh, Cortez, Bacon, Newton, Locke, Washington, Adams, Madison, and Monroe, while on either side of the door stood the bust of Alexander and Napoleon.

"Leading from this room on the west side was the dining-room, and beyond this the octagonal tea-room. Here were to be seen busts of Franklin, Voltaire, Lafayette, and Paul Jones. Adjoining this were the bedrooms for guests.

"On the east of the entrance hall was the bedroom of Mrs. Martha Randolph, Jefferson's daughter, who resided there permanently after the death of Mrs. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson's bedroom was next to that of Mrs. Randolph, beyond which was his library, from which opened an arched conservatory; beyond this was Mr. Jefferson's celebrated workshop.

"The upper part of the house was gained by a very narrow, tortuous stairway; the rooms above were quite small, of low pitch, and badly lighted or ventilated; all of them were of many shapes, in conformity to the octagonal design of the house; alcoves let into the wall served in the place of bedsteads, their small dimensions being hardly suited to the comfortable repose of an ordinary-- sized person.

"The dome over the parlor was covered with thick glass; this was called the "ladies' drawing-- room," and at one time was used as a billiard room until the laws of Virginia prohibited the game."

A flaw in the superb view, which disappointed his foreign guests, was the absence of any sheet of water. Jefferson himself used to say that if the county of Fluvanna were a lake, and Willis's Mountain a volcano, his scenery' would be perfect. This cone-shaped Willis's Mountain had a peculiar fascination for the Sage; he was fond of pointing out that it possessed the outline and proportions of the greater pyramid, seen from the same distance, and its "loonung" is frequently mentioned in the correspondence of the day. Of this phenomenon Randall gives this account:

"It occurs only in the morning. Sometimes the conical summit seems to shoot in an immense column to the clouds. At others, it assumes the forms of a hemisphere, a square, a pine tree, a parachute, and others as fantastic. The Blue Ridge, also, though not to an eqtial degree, exhibits this phenomenon when it is seen from Monticello at about forty or fifty miles off. One of its appearances is very striking. The lofty chain seems cloven to its base, by a wooded or bare and rocky gorge. Perhaps a green valley stretches througli, and other ranges of mountains are seen rising beyond. To one unacquainted with these optical delusions they bring unutterable amazement. What must have been the emotions of the former Indian inhabitant as he paused, startled in the morning chase, to witness these tremendous transfigurations of the most massive and immobile objects in nature!"

Upon Jefferson's retirement in 1809 from public life, Monticello became the gathering-place for a large and brilliant circle. Nieces and nephews, grandchildren and country cousins, made visits of a year or so in duration; the statesmen, soldiers, scientists and authors of this country and abroad were constantly arriving and being entertained; and no great nohle, whose enlightened philosophy attracted him to the new Republic, could count his American tour a success without a stay at the home of the Father of Democracy. Mrs. Randolph, on being asked what was the largest number of guests for whom she had ever been required to find beds, laughingly replied: "I believe, fifty."

A story connected with the site of the Monticello's burial ground illustrates one of Jefferson's most marked traits-the strength and permanence of his attachments. The closest tie of his early manhood had been his friendship for the Dabney Carr who Ground became his brother-in-law. As boys they had studied together beneath a fine tree on the summit of Monicello, then an uncleared forest. A boyish compact was made that they would be buried there, together; the survivor to execute the pledge. Young Carr died at the age of thirty, while Jefferson was away from home, and he returned to find that the interment had been at Shadwell. Recalling the old promise, he had the body moved to the chosen site, and thus formed the beginning of the family cemetery. The legend that Jefferson and Carr were buried in the same grave is disproved by their separate stones.

A few years after Jefferson's death, it became necessary for the family to relinquish the famous home, and it was purchased in 1830 by James T. Barclay, who in 1836 re-sold it, with 218 acres, to Commodore Uriah P. Levy for the sum of $2,700<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3

Deed Book No. 33, County Clerk's Office.">[3]. With the exception of the war-period, during which it was confiscated by the Confederate Government, it aftenvards remained in the possession of the Levy family, and by them' was maintained in a high degree of order and beauty. Its recent purchase by the Jefferson Memorial Foundation assures to the nation its continued preservation.


Authorities Randall's Life of Jefferson; Edward Mead, Historic Homes of the Southwest Mountains.