Friday, November 30, 2012

Meet Me in Monticello

Probably the 3nd most popular presidential house (#1 White House & #2 Mount Vernon) would be Thomas Jefferson's home outside of Charlottesville, VA- Monticello, which means "little mountain". It' s about 3 hours away from Washington, D.C., but worth the extra mileage for the astonishing views and clever house.

Especially with the leaves changing colors and the cool crisp air atop the mountain, the view was extraordinary. If I had to chose between the view of Mount Vernon (with the Potomac and hills) or Monticello's mountain surroundings I choose Monticello... no hesitation. The gardens were absolutely gorgeous! Thus explains the thousands of pictures.

I mean really... who would turn down views like this? Couldn't you just picture walking the grounds in the morning as the sun comes up? Or even in the evening as the fireflies come out?

Yup I could live here. Not exactly outside, but if you were to give me a little cottage on the grounds here I'd manage as long as I had hot running water for a bathtub and a fireplace, I'd be content.

Brian however, probably wouldn't be content to be so far away from a big city. Brian likes challenging jobs and opportunities... and a limited area means limited challenges and job opportunities. Guess I'll have to live here in my dreams.

We both also enjoyed the house tour in addition to the grounds.  Unlike Mount Vernon (which George Washington inherited and slowly had others make additions to it), Thomas Jefferson built Monticello himself and was very hands on in it's development and architecture... even when he was away in France or serving as our 3rd President in Washington, D.C. The house included 22 rooms, equip with several skylights, a dumb waiter which transported bottles of wine from downstairs to the side of the fireplace in the dining room for guests, weather vanes on patio ceilings, clocks which told the time as well as the day of the week, a copying machine (kind of like an old-fashioned Xerox machine), and multiple other scientific resources such as telescopes, globes, etc...

(Pictures inside the house were prohibited... sorry).

His construction of the rooms had many architectural styles found within France during his time, such as alcove beds and scroll-work along the trim where the wall meets the ceiling. But he also was brilliant in making everything functional. For example, food cooked and smoked typically needed to be furthest away from the house (due to the smoke, heat, etc..). But if the food was too far from the house, the food would get cold by the time it arrived in the dining room. So Jefferson made the South Pavilion (previously it was the first building on the grounds of Monticello where Jefferson brought his wife to live) into the kitchen. And when the food was done being cooked, the staff/slaves would take the food downstairs and under the walkway (which sheltered the food from the elements outside like rain, snow, heat,...) and into the main house where it would still be warm upon serving Jefferson and his guests and family.


Just brilliant! And that is only one example. But Brian and I both agreed that Jefferson was the Brian Oney of his day.

Jefferson, his wife, and children are all buried on the grounds of Monticello in an elaborate graveyard. The tall obelisk that covers the graves of Jefferson and his wife was later erected by the U.S. government in his honor.

In the graveyard is also the grave of Jefferson's mother. I thought that was kind of neat. 

However, the BEST part of this was that it was a kid-free date with my husband. We don't get too many of these and we had purposely postponed our anniversary in October until we were in Virginia with family... family we could con into watching our children while we escaped. You know sometimes I forget how much I like Brian.

I think sometimes with kids we forget to enjoy our spouse and get caught up in the chores, agendas, and damage control, and we forget the things we used to do together that we both enjoy. Like traveling, and hiking, and living in a small house in Virginia near Monticello... oh wait... sorry... last one is mine.  

Hope everyone takes some time to enjoy their spouse. And for more information on Monticello, click HERE.

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