Sunday, November 07, 2010
I'm sure there's not a single angle of Monticello that hasn't been photographed, so here's my picture-postcard view that I could've probably found in 0.47 seconds on Google. Apparently no-one can remember if I'd been to Thomas Jefferson's hilltop home before, but I can safely say that if I had visited, I was too young at the time to recall many details.
The thing about an iconic location such as Monticello is that you think you already know all. The columns, the contraptions, the collections; the self-taught scientist, architect and politician. All true, but none a reason not to set foot on the property in person and discover the history for oneself.
On the day we visited some of the house normally on the tour was closed for restoration, so we got half price tickets. I'm not much for guided tours so this suited me fine. We had about an hour before our scheduled tour time to wander the grounds. Most surprising was the variety of produce still being grown in the vegetable garden at this time of year. The garden in set on a 100 yard long terrace on the South hillside, with panoramic views of the plain below.
We also took the opportunity to explore the 'Dependancies', the sunken wings off of the main house which housed some of the industries on which the house and estate depended. I envy the beer cellar!
The house tour itself was brief but ultimately exceeded expectations. We had a Middle-Eastern party with our tour group and one a few members spoke good enough English to murmur translations to their compatriots. I found the process almost as interesting as the tour itself. The guide spoke in elevated prose mired with the witticisms one would expect of a Jefferson devotee, so one can only imagine the messages received after translation! We learned from the tour that Jefferson worked ridiculously hard in all aspects of life, and so perhaps deserves the status a American demi-god, especially as he worked the hardest on discerning the properties of his nascent nation, both in investigating the natural world that existed there and inventing the social world that came to exist.
As usual, a fuller pictorial account is available on my Flickr page. Enjoy