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Thursday
Jul202017

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

When I was 8 years old, I read biographies that I found in the school library of famous Americans. Thomas Jefferson's story always resonated with me. I was intrigued by his inventions and the stone tunnel that ran underneath his home, Monticello. I finally fulfilled a bucket list dream and took a visit to Virginia and Monticello.

 A shuttle bus climbs the hill to bring us to our destination.  No photos permitted inside the house, I am sorry to say. I was hoping to hear in detail and to see the many inventions Jefferson created. On this particular day, our docent focused on the enslaved people who worked on the plantation. I will need to find a book on Jefferson's prolific genius to learn more.

This post card by photographer Charles Shoffner shows the entry hall to receive guests. The guests would have been startled, as I was, at the hanging dispaly of Natve American artifacts, maps, paintings, and tables with dinosaur bones for them to examine.

We toured the house and heard cursory explanations of some of the inventions. Once the upper house tour was complete we were urged to continue our visit on the grounds and photography was then permitted. This is the underground kitchen.

Thomas Jefferson's kitchen contained a stew stove. A brick counter with 8 openings over charcoal fires enabled the cooks to more carefully tend to the French delicacies they created here.

The celebrated dumb waiter. An invention I have waited a lifetime to see! It is a narrow wood lined opening that runs up the fireplace wall into the dining room from the wine cellar. It is just wide enough for a wine bottle. A trusted servant loaded the wine and the butler or family member retrieved the bottle.

The ice house is 16 feet deep. It enabled the Jefferson staff to preserve food or create ice cream, a French creation.

The underground tunnel/passage which runs directly beneath the house and out to the wings where the servants worked. It was quite cool in the tunnel and I found myself retreating there several times throughout our visit. It was a hive of activety at one time.

Window in the underground tunnel.

The vista from Monticello. The mansion is perched on a little hill and has stunning views of the valley below.

There were 2 other tours we could have joined. One was the garden tour and the other dealt with slavery issues. The day was very hot so we declined. If I return, I would visit in the Spring. There is a good bit of walking involved. I could spend an entire day here. I do not recommend bringing small children.Strollers are not permitted in the house. Children ages 8 and older would probably enjoy the tours and grounds.

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