Monticello Magazine 2023 Spring-Summer

MONTICELLO The Magazine Spring/Summer 2023

Celebrating a Century The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Turns 100





FROM THE PRESIDENT A “fulness of time”

Dear Friends,

I offer you this letter with a mixture of pride, gratitude and sadness, as it is my final letter to you in this magazine. After 15 wonderful years at Monticello, I have decided it is time for new leadership, and I will step down from the presidency of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation on April 30 of this year. Thomas Jefferson said it better than anyone before or since: “there is a fulness of time when men should go, & not occupy too long the ground to which others have a right to advance.” Gardiner Hallock has been appointed interim president, and the board of trustees has begun its search for a new leader. Gardiner has served as a senior leader at Monticello for more than a decade, most recently as vice president for architecture, lands and facilities. During the past 15 years, Monticello has welcomed millions of guests, expanded scholarship, and modernized across digital and physical platforms. We have brought the past forward, informing critical conversations about topics ranging from freedom and slavery to religious liberty, from architecture, science and the arts to civic engagement and education. These efforts have epitomized Jefferson’s fundamental belief in the commitment to “increasing our knolege and improving our condition.” With the shared dedication and brilliance of colleagues, trustees and donors, we have returned Monticello as closely as we could to Jefferson’s vision and creation, and restored lost places, voices and stories. We have added nearly 500 acres to our holdings, preserving the viewshed and original Jefferson lands. With the recent acquisition of the neighboring and historic Jefferson Vineyards, we have further expanded Monticello’s commitment to agriculture, agritourism and Jefferson’s seminal role in the American wine industry. We have expanded our Getting Word African American

Oral History project, now in its 30th year, to connect nearly 1,000 descendants of enslaved families to Monticello and to one another, which has allowed us to trace the human arc from slavery to freedom through their generously shared stories. And most recently, we have worked with David M. Rubenstein to secure the long-term loan of a rare and early engraving of the Declaration of Independence, now on exhibit in the visitor center bearing his name. I have had the privilege to be a steward of one of the world’s most precious places, both a World Heritage Site for its expression of human creative genius and an International Site of Conscience for its painful history of slavery. It has been the greatest honor of my career; I will cherish the work and those alongside me who made it possible. As we look toward the celebration of the 250th anniversary of America’s independence, I step down with certainty that Monticello’s finest days lie ahead, proud that I could play a small part.

Wishing you well,

Leslie Greene Bowman President

Leslie Bowman’s commitment to ensuring America better understands the historic and contemporary impact of slavery changed the trajectory of not only Monticello but of other historic homes and plantations. Her courageous leadership helped all to see the complexity of Thomas Jefferson and the centrality of slavery in the lives of many of the founders of America. We were all made better by her time at Monticello. — Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian “ ”

Being at Monticello is as close as we can come to being in conversation with Thomas Jefferson, and Leslie Bowman invigorated, elevated and diversified those conversations through years of consequential leadership. Creative and tireless, thoughtful and curious, Leslie has become a leading figure in the complicated, ever-shifting and essential realm of American memory. “ ” — Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian

Monticello The Magazine is published twice yearly by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc., the private, nonprofit organization that has owned and operated Monticello since 1923. Its twofold mission is preservation and education. Questions, comments and address changes should be directed to Monticello The Magazine , P.O. Box 316, Charlottesville, VA 22902; View archives at monticello. org/magazine . Editor: Robert Viccellio (Viccellio Communications) . Design: Monica Pedynkowski, John McKee (Calendar) . Artwork and Photography: Unless marked, images © Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Photos: Sara Addleman, Ian Atkins, William Dillon, Kenneth Garrett, Eleanor Gould, Bobak Ha’Eri, Jennifer Lyon, Leah O’Connell, Gene Runion, Sanjay Suchak, Attila Woodward, Gabriel Zakaib. Contributors: Niya Bates, Diane Ehrenpreis, Gardiner Hallock, Jeff Looney, Brianna Melick, Lucy Midelfort, Crystal O’Connor, Karen Quillen, John Ragosta. © 2023 Thomas Jefferson Foundation®



ON THE COVER: Aerial view of Monticello Photo by Ian Atkins

On Monticello’s West Lawn, a 1930s Pierce-Arrow automobile and the seat of Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 horse-drawn phaeton illustrate more than a century’s worth of transportation progress.

Rufus Holsinger/University of Virginia Special Collections

Spring/Summer 2023



10 CELEBRATING A CENTURY For the past 100 years, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has owned and operated Monticello, pursuing its twofold mission of preservation and education. 12 RESTORING A MASTERPIECE Scholars, architects, archaeologists and skilled craftspeople have shared a long history of working together to restore Monticello to the way it appeared during Jefferson’s lifetime.

Visitors to Monticello can enjoy a variety of tours and exhibits. The surrounding area also offers more history, natural beauty and family activities. 18 MR. JEFFERSON'S NEIGHBORHOOD 16 ARCHIVE OF FREEDOM The Getting Word African American Oral History Project marks three decades of preserving the histories of Monticello’s enslaved families and their descendants.



Delving Into the Declaration Rare engraving highlights exhibit

A new exhibit at The David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith Education Center explores how the Declaration of Independence went from the tip of Thomas Jefferson’s quill to become an icon of democracy throughout the world. Featuring an online scavenger hunt that helps bring the Declaration to life for younger visitors along with an audio and video gallery, the exhibit is highlighted by a rare engraving of the Declaration of Independence. On loan from David Rubenstein, the engraving is one of 40 known copies that remain from those made by William J. Stone in the 1820s. After the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and printed on July 5, the Continental Congress ordered on July 19 that the Declaration be engrossed — meaning that the original document would be copied in large handwriting.

Congress also ordered “that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress,” and, on August 2, president of the Congress John Hancock was the first to add his famous signature. As the years passed, the engrossed version of the Declaration deteriorated and faded. In 1820, then-secretary of state John Quincy Adams commissioned Stone to create an exact facsimile of the engrossed version on copperplate. When completed in 1823, Stone’s version was considered the official copy for government use, and in 1824, Congress ordered the distribution of 200 copies printed on parchment. Copies were sent to all 24 states and to each of the three surviving signers: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Charles Carroll. Other copies were distributed to governors and presidents of colleges and universities.

Bill Barker, aka Thomas Jefferson, visits the Declaration exhibit. Guests can meet Jefferson (as portrayed by Barker) in person at Monticello on most Tuesdays through Saturdays during regularly scheduled hours. A rare original copy of the Stone Declaration of Independence, commissioned to duplicate the artistry of the original engrossed version, which had faded by the 1820s. The exhibit in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Gallery explores the document that Jefferson called “an expression of the American mind” and was first among the achievements for which he wished to be remembered. Bill Barker’s position at Monticello is made possible by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

Ian Atkins


Above the fireplace in the Parlor hang two gilt- bronze sconces purchased by Jefferson during his years as ambassador to France between 1784 and 1789. Typically placed next to a mirror to increase their luminescence, this type of sconce remained a popular form of lighting well into the 19th century. Research by Monticello’s curatorial team indicates that after Jefferson’s death, his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph acquired these sconces at the 1827 Monticello dispersal sale. Randolph used them at his nearby estate and plantation, Edgehill, where they remained until the Carter family purchased them at a cousin’s estate sale. The Carters have generously allowed the sconces to be on display in Monticello’s Parlor for the past 30 years. A recent project to reproduce these sconces combines modern techniques with traditional craftsmanship. A conservator carefully made molds of the original sconces using a modern silicone rubber that did not damage the antique brass. Next, the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, created bronze reproductions using a traditional lost-wax casting method much like the process used to produce the originals in 18th-century France. The reproductions will be available for study by researchers and loaned to Bob and Carol Carter in appreciation of their long-term loan of the originals. This project was made possible by the following donors: E. B. Duff Charitable Lead Annuity Trust, The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins Jr. Foundation, The Rock Foundation and Rita M. Smith. GUIDING LIGHTS Reproducing Jefferson’s sconces

Left: One of a pair of sconces in the Parlor. Below: As part of the sconce reproduction process, complex molds of more than 20 individual pieces were carefully made by conservator Andy Compton.

New Life for an Old Mill

portions of the stone walls remain. Monticello’s

Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 just over 3 miles from Monticello at Shadwell, the main plantation of his father, Peter Jefferson. Named after the parish in London where his mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was born, Shadwell was passed down to Jefferson by his father and served as farmland. The ruin of a mill built in 1807 is the only visible structure remaining at Shadwell. Part of a once bustling mill complex along the Rivanna River, Jefferson’s

restoration department partnered with Dominion Traditional

Building Group to carefully stabilize the ruin. They replaced missing and deteriorated mortar between the

gristmill was used to grind

both Jefferson’s wheat and that of his neighbors.

The Shadwell mill restoration won the 2022 Gabriella Page Preservation Award for Outstanding Preservation Project from Preservation Virginia.

remaining stones, installed a cap to ensure that water sheds properly off the structure, and injected grout behind fragments of original plaster on the interior walls.

Since then, the mill has deteriorated, and only

Learn more about Jefferson's mill operations at



Sustainable agriculture thrives at Tufton Farm GROWTH INDUSTRY

Part of the Monticello plantation, Tufton Farm provided abundant crops and served as a primary source of food for those who lived at Monticello during Jefferson’s time. Today, Tufton is still an important food source at Monticello. Under the guidance of Evan O’Neill, Monticello’s farm associate,

After learning his way around the apiary under the tutelage of volunteer beekeepers Paul LeGrand and Leslie Bouterie, O’Neill has taken over the responsibility of caring for more than 30 hives of bees. Critical for pollination of the gardens, the bees also produce the honey used

thyme, sage, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Led by Chef David Bastide, the café’s culinary team aims to connect history with food — sharing the pleasures of sustainable, organic and locally sourced ingredients. Jefferson’s enthusiasm for local agriculture and his love of seasonal produce is a central theme at the café,

Tufton is expanding its operation in 2023 with a new greenhouse, more beehives and a wider variety of vegetables grown on its 1.5 acres under cultivation. O’Neill is also establishing innovative technologies and sustainable standards, such as on- site composting, crop rotation and cover crops to build up the soil structure. “The main goals of Tufton Vegetable Farm are to sustainably grow and distribute the freshest possible

along with the culinary legacy of generations of Monticello’s enslaved gardeners and cooks who raised the vegetables and prepared the food for Jefferson’s table. Chef David Bastide says Tufton is essential to Farm Table’s mission and that he is constantly

trying to include more items from the farm on the menu. “We are using produce to create daily or weekly specials and give the vegetables their own voice at the café and use them as an educational piece,” says Bastide. “For example, when sea kale, cardone, orache or other lesser- known vegetables are growing in the gardens at Tufton, we want to share something with our guests that they might not have eaten before.”

Monticello Farm Table Chef David Bastide and Tufton Farm Associate Evan O’Neill

produce to our Monticello Farm Table café and to provide high- quality produce for our products in The Shop at Monticello,” says O’Neill. “The farm prides itself on implementing sustainable practices and eliminating all pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.”

in Monticello products including soap, beer, shortbread and hot sauce. Visitors to Monticello Farm Table café can enjoy fresh vegetables grown minutes away at Tufton, including kale, spinach, arugula, rosemary,


Tufton Farm produces between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds of tomatoes that are served at Monticello Farm Table café and used for Monticello products such as bloody mary mix. Many of the tomatoes are Jefferson heirloom varieties, such as red fig and yellow pear tomatoes. Tufton also grows about 1,000

pounds of sweet and hot heirloom peppers that are used to make Monticello’s pepper jelly and hot sauce. For a selection of these and other Monticello food and drink offerings, visit entertaining/food-drink .


In an 1806 sketch of Monticello mountain, Thomas Jefferson designated 18 acres on the northwestern side as the “Grove.” He intended the Grove to be an ornamental forest with the undergrowth removed, the trees pruned and thinned, and the woodland “broken by clumps of thicket, as the open grounds of the English are broken by clumps of trees.” Visitors to Monticello in Jefferson’s time were often given The Grove Finds Its Groove

“within a few days I shall bury myself in the groves of Monticello, & become a mere spectator of the passing events.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1809

tours of the grounds, which included a rambling survey of the 160 species described as Jefferson’s “pet trees.” The Grove was first restored in the 1970s, but many of the trees have lived out their life spans, succumbed to disease or suffered heavy storm damage. Through research and the replanting of 52 new trees, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has restored the Upper Grove to resemble Jefferson’s vision more closely. The trees replenish those that have been lost and replace locally extinct Jefferson-documented trees such as the chestnut and American elm with other native species. The yearlong project was made possible with funds from the Rivanna Garden Club of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jefferson Said It A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE By J. Jefferson Looney, the Daniel P. Jordan Editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello

we are sometimes disposed to think with regret that we have been born an age too soon for the luminous advance of sciences, of which we see the dawn. but justice suggests that our age has had it’s turn, and it’s honors too, and that the enjoyments of advancing science which we have had more than those who have gone before us, should not be envied to those who are to come after us ” — Thomas Jefferson to Claudius Crozet, November 23, 1821 Thomas Jefferson emphatically disagreed when John Adams suggested in 1798 that he saw little hope of transmitting to posterity any improvement on existing “principles, institutions, or systems of education.” Jefferson’s own more optimistic view was that the human mind “is perfectible to a degree of which we cannot as yet form any conception,” and thus that there would always be more to learn and improve. Benjamin Franklin once wished that he had been born centuries later, to satisfy his curiosity but also to enjoy the comforts of new inventions. In the quote above, Jefferson counseled against envying those who would benefit from such future blessings, inasmuch as each generation should be allowed the pleasure of making its own discoveries.

Fascinated by science and technology, Jefferson filled his home with scientific instruments like this orrery, an operating model of the solar system.




Dengel has been active in digital media for more than 25 years, starting with AOL in 1996. He holds degrees in finance and in systems engineering, both from the University of Pennsylvania. Dengel lives in Charlottesville with his wife and four children. Hardie is co-chair of H7 Holdings LLC, a private family investment company that owns and manages Keswick Hall and Golf Club in Keswick, Virginia, and the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an alumna of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia Medical School. She lives with her husband and five sons in Keswick. Monticello also welcomed two new trustees: real estate developer and investor Don King of Charlottesville (who previously served as chair of the foundation’s board from 2013 to 2019) and architect Peter Cook of Washington, D.C.

Technology entrepreneur and innovator Tobias Dengel has been elected chair of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Board of Trustees. He is the co-founder of Charlottesville, Virginia-based WillowTree, a leading digital product agency that has grown to more than 1,100 employees and was recently acquired by TELUS International. Hospitality entrepreneur Molly Hardie will serve as vice chair. “Monticello is fortunate to have the guidance of Tobias Dengel and Molly Hardie, as well as two outstanding new trustees,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “As the Foundation celebrates its first century, we continue the tradition of strong and visionary board leadership as we plan for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States and strengthen our dedication to an honest, inclusive approach to history.”

Tobias Dengel

Molly Hardie

Don King

Peter Cook

Taking a Byte Out of History

New podcasts are coming online, joining the Mountaintop History series hosted by public historians Olivia Brown and Kyle Chattleton. Earlier this year, Monticello launched A Rich Spot of Earth , a monthly podcast about Thomas Jefferson, gardening and the natural world. In the inaugural episode, Monticello’s gardeners and groundskeepers delved into the topic of seeds — one of the most elemental building blocks of the garden — and seed saving, while sharing stories, tips and techniques from Jefferson’s time and our own. Also in the works is a podcast series about the 100-year history of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, scheduled to debut this spring.

From podcasts to videos and livestreams, Monticello offers an extensive multimedia library that helps bring history to life. A recently completed digital studio featuring enhanced equipment and green screen capabilities provides a place where content creators can tell even more stories.

To enjoy the full collection of livestreams, videos and podcasts, visit .

From left to right: In the new digital studio, Jason Young, Peggy Cornett, Deborah Donley and Michael Tricomi discuss their experiences caring for Monticello’s gardens and grounds.

The digital studio was made possible with support from an anonymous donor, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation and Acentech Incorporated.


In SEARCH of ANSWERS Artifacts discovered at the site provided clues that gave a better understanding of occupation dates. Fragments of ceramics were found consisting mostly of creamware table wares, which dates the occupation to the 1770s and 1780s

Archaeologists piece together the past

Monticello archaeologists began work on an exciting new excavation last year at Site 30, a domestic site where enslaved field laborers lived in the late 18th century. The wooded site is located about a third of a mile east of Thomas Jefferson’s mansion. These projects allow archaeologists to learn more about the lives of the site’s inhabitants from the physical traces they left behind by

enough to determine whether there were other pits under this structure. This is an important research question because multiple pits under a single building would indicate that it was home to multiple families. This pattern is seen in homes of enslaved people from the 1770s and 1780s on Mulberry Row and across the Chesapeake for most of the 18th century. Artifact distribution maps suggest there were additional

— a time period when tobacco was Monticello’s sole cash crop. There are also pieces of locally made coarse earthenware that point to food storage independent of the weekly ration provided by

Students enrolled in the Monticello–UVA Archaeological Field School conduct fieldwork at Site 30.

Monticello archaeologist Crystal O’Connor studies a partially excavated subfloor pit. The full outline of the pit forms a rectangle extending to the left.

seeking answers to several basic questions. Can precise occupation dates be determined? How many dwellings were there? What kinds of social groups did they house? How did their household economies work? Like most sites

Jefferson. Artifacts also include a small number of Native American stone tools and debitage (debris found where stone tools were made) and a few ceramics dating between the years 900 and 1600. The ceramics point to a seasonal occupation by ancestral Monacan people. There is less certainty about the number of houses that stood at the site. So far, the only subsurface architectural evidence is a subfloor pit where enslaved people stored food and personal belongings. A log cabin would have stood directly above the pit. Archaeologists have not yet excavated around the pit

Archaeology conducted by the Field School at Site 30 was made possible by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. will provide more data to help solve the puzzles of Site 30 and further illuminate the lives of its residents. houses on the site. Density peaks on the maps for ceramics and nails lie more than 50 feet south of the subfloor pit. The distance of those items from the house that stood over the already discovered pit also suggests the likelihood of more houses on the site. Additional fieldwork this summer

that were home to enslaved field laborers, Site 30 is not

mentioned in historic documents, so archaeology is the only way to find answers. Students enrolled in the Monticello–University of Virginia Archaeological Field School began fieldwork in June 2022, and staff archaeologists continued excavations through November.

Artifacts in Monticello’s archaeological collections total over 2 million. The 8,500 artifacts recovered to date from Site 30 help archaeologists better understand and FOUND AT SITE 30

Stone tools and pottery point to

Ceramics such as pearlware and creamware help archaeologists

intermittent, seasonal encampments by ancestral Monacans.

understand the site’s occupation dates, its residents’ economic status, and choices residents made at the market while purchasing these objects.

interpret what life was like for the people who lived at Monticello.



Monticello is designated a National Historic Landmark

Celebrating a Century On April 13, 1923, Thomas Jefferson’s 180th birthday, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation formed as a private nonprofit corporation and purchased Monticello to serve “as a memorial to the Author of the Declaration of Independence and for the purpose of inculcating through patriotic education a better understanding and appreciation of the life and service of Thomas Jefferson.” The following year, the house opened as a public attraction, and it has since welcomed more than 32 million visitors. During the past century, the Foundation has instituted numerous research and educational programs as well as major restoration and renovation projects, fulfilling its dual mission of preservation and education.


U.S. Naturalization Service ceremonies

begin at Monticello on July 4th Over the past 60 years, close to 4,000 people from around the world have sworn their oath of American citizenship on the steps of Jefferson’s iconic home.


Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation incorporated in New York Monticello is purchased from Jefferson Monroe Levy A successful three-term New York congressman, businessman at a public auction in 1879 for $10,500, recovering the home his uncle Uriah Levy had originally purchased in the 1830s. Jefferson Levy owned and cared for the Monticello estate until it was purchased for $500,000 by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation 44 years later. and lawyer, Jefferson Monroe Levy purchased Monticello


Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants founded Established to collect, preserve and distribute historic plant varieties, the Center promotes greater appreciation

for the origins and evolution of garden plants. Jefferson’s

horticultural interests and the broad history of plants cultivated in America are areas of focus.


Garden Club of Virginia landscape restoration Including the winding flower border on the West Lawn, the fishpond and the flower beds at the


Monticello and the University of Virginia are jointly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site designation World Heritage sites are chosen because they “represent a masterpiece of human creative

corners of the house, this project restored the gardens

to Thomas Jefferson’s original design.

genius” and “exhibit an important interchange of human values.” Monticello is the only U.S. presidential home on the UNESCO World Heritage list.




Getting Word Oral History Project launched

Purchase of Montalto Montalto, the neighboring mountain that rises 400 feet above Monticello,

This project has preserved stories handed down over eight generations, illuminating life at Monticello 200 years ago along with the lives of the descendants of enslaved people in America. In the project’s 30-year history, Getting Word staff have traveled more than 40,000 miles to interview 225 Getting Word participants. Monticello also introduces Slavery at Monticello Tours in 1993. Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies established Monticello’s multidisciplinary educational initiatives are conducted through the Center to foster and widely disseminate Jefferson scholarship. The Center is also home to the Jefferson Papers project (Retirement Series), which is

represents the Foundation’s most significant land acquisition. The Foundation’s stewardship now includes approximately 2,600 of Jefferson’s original 5,000 acres, of which more than 1,400 are held under protective easements.



Monticello Visitor Center opens The David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith

Education Center welcome guests to the historic mountaintop, presenting fresh perspectives on Monticello and the enduring significance of Jefferson’s life and ideas.

producing the definitive edition of Jefferson’s correspondence in the years after his presidency along with scholarly annotation and commentary. GETTING WORD THE MONTICELLO AFRICAN AMERICAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT ESTABLISHED 1993

2018 2017

Completion of the Mountaintop Project This multiyear effort restores Monticello as Jefferson knew it, telling the stories of Monticello is listed as an International Site of Conscience

2000 1997

Plantation Archaeology Survey begins

This survey provides a complete inventory of the unique archaeological resources located on the land owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Saunders-Monticello Trail opens Open to the public and free of charge, this 2.2- mile wooded pathway winds its way toward Monticello and provides spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jefferson Library dedicated

the people — enslaved and free — who lived and worked on the 5,000-acre plantation. The project includes major restorations of the upper floors of the home, restoration of the North and South Wings, and reconstructions on Mulberry Row.


The first freestanding library dedicated to the study of a Founding Father, this 15,500-square-foot facility combines the power of place with the power of ideas. Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemorated Monticello observed the bicentennial of the exploratory expedition up the Missouri River and on to the Pacific, conceived and commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson the same year the Louisiana Purchase was completed. Native Want to learn more about the past 100 years at Monticello? Visit for a complete timeline, historical photos and more. American artists work to re-create the “Indian Hall” at Monticello with art forms encountered by Lewis and Clark.


Jefferson Vineyards acquired Historic and picturesque, this neighboring winery has strong ties to Jefferson’s passion



for winemaking. Building for the future The Thomas Jefferson Foundation looks ahead to the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026 and to the next 100 years of bringing history forward into national and global dialogues.


This Old House Restoring a masterpiece

Monticello has always been a work in progress. Beginning with Jefferson’s initial directions in 1768, extending through the Levy ownership from 1834 until Jefferson M. Levy sold Monticello to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1923, and continuing today, work continues to build, maintain and restore this internationally important World Heritage Site. Since acquiring Monticello, the Foundation has been committed to the preservation and restoration of Jefferson’s mountaintop home, ensuring that it reflects his architectural vision — including the house, gardens and Mulberry Row. The scholarly approach that has marked the stewardship of this World Heritage Site began with the restoration of the North Wing in 1938. Since then, generations of architects, historians, restoration experts, curators and archaeologists have worked together to restore Monticello, interpreting a wealth of physical and documentary evidence. The following are just a few of the projects that have conserved, protected and maintained Monticello over the past 100 years.

Reconstruction of the South Terrace in 1941

The Roof

From the time Thomas Jefferson began planning Monticello in the 1760s, he took a keen interest in the question of how to shelter himself effectively and economically from the weather. He approached the issue from the vantage point of both architect and engineer and considered some of the most progressive roof structures and coverings of his time. In at least one case he can be credited with a truly innovative roof form — the “zigzag” or “terras” roof. The restoration of Monticello’s roof and dome, started in 1991 and finished in 1992, was a major undertaking. The Foundation faithfully restored what was, in its time, one of the most complex roofing systems on any house in America, especially with its iconic dome. Just as they have for many other restoration

projects at Monticello, Jefferson’s extensive notes helped guide work on the roof. The roof restoration included a lengthy list of repairs and careful reconstructions. Tinned stainless steel shingles replicated the tinned iron shingles that covered the dome and main roof in the 1820s. Painted stainless steel was substituted for the painted sheet iron that covered the upper terras roof after 1803. A new balustrade was constructed that closely followed Jefferson’s classical design and incorporated more than 50 original balusters.

The dome was restored, and 11 skylights made in the Jeffersonian

style were installed.

The 1990s roof restoration is the third time that the Thomas Jefferson

Foundation has replaced Monticello’s roof. The first was in 1924, pictured in this photo donated by Lenore Granger Watts, whose father, Gordon Granger Jr., worked on restorations and took the photo.

Bob Self, former director of the restoration department, works on the Monticello roof restoration in 1992. The second restoration was completed in 1955, under the direction of architect Milton Grigg, pictured here with Fiske Kimball (left). Kimball oversaw numerous Monticello restoration projects from 1939 until his death in 1955.


West Portico Columns

In 2013, the columns on the West Portico were restored to their original Jefferson-era appearance. These columns on the “nickel view” of Monticello were made of specially molded “compass” bricks — a common way to construct columns in the 18th and 19th centuries because it was easier and cheaper than building with solid stone. They were then “rendered” or covered in a smooth stucco-like coating to mimic the appearance of stone. The West Portico columns, which were not constructed until 1823, replaced temporary ones fashioned from tulip poplar tree trunks. Historic paint consultants Frank S. Welsh and Susan L. Buck discovered the original render, dating from Jefferson’s time, had survived. They also determined that at least 19 coats of white paint had been applied to the columns, but only after the original render had been exposed to the elements for quite some time, leaving a thick layer of dirt. As part of the conservation process, a combination of steam-based paint removal and a special low-pressure blasting system (originally developed to clean the Statue of Liberty) was used to complete the project safely and efficiently. Finally, the original render was repaired with period-appropriate materials, restoring the columns to their appearance during Jefferson’s final years.

The West Portico columns being prepared for restoration to their original appearance.

The columns as they currently appear.

The columns' surfaces were cleaned with a low-pressure blasting system.


Textile Workshop

One of the first buildings on Mulberry Row, this mortared stone structure was built around 1778 as a free workmen’s house. It served as living quarters for skilled white woodworkers and masons who lived here during the construction of Monticello. During the interval between the construction and remodeling of the main house (1784–96), this building housed enslaved people who worked on the mountaintop, principally members of the Hemings family. By 1815, the structure had become a textile workshop, where the Herns, Gillettes and other enslaved families produced summer-weight cotton and hemp as well as winter woolens. Monticello archaeologists discovered several bricks after excavating the floor, which provided key information for the restoration of the original brick floor. The building offered several other clues that revealed what it once looked like. Cuts at the ends of the original ceiling joists survived, showing the angle of the roof’s pediment. The shape of the building’s unusual triangular vestibule was revealed by holes in the walls that held the plates framing it. Original plaster provided evidence for whitewashed walls, and elements of an original window frame showed the size of the windows and how they were trimmed. The restored building features an exhibit about Mulberry Row and a room depicting the factory where enslaved workers turned cotton, hemp and wool into cloth.

After-and- before photos of the upstairs Nursery restoration.

The Textile Workshop in 1905 and as it now appears after it was restored in 2018 to its original appearance, based on Thomas Jefferson’s plans for the building and physical evidence.

Upper Floors

On Monticello’s second and third floors, nine rooms were restored and furnished in recent years as part of the Mountaintop Project. Occupied primarily by Jefferson’s eldest daughter, son-in-law, sister, grandchildren and guests, these private quarters illustrate the dynamics of family life in the early 1800s, including how their lives were interwoven with those of enslaved people. Of all the upstairs spaces that were restored, reinterpreted and furnished during the 2013-2018 Mountaintop Project, the Nursery was the most complex. After being repurposed over the years by the Levy family as a bathroom and storage room, the room required extensive architectural restoration to show its function after Jefferson’s retirement from the presidency. Manuscript evidence indicates that Jefferson specifically designated a room to serve as a nursery in the expanded Monticello in the 1790s. In 1809, his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph and her family moved to Monticello. Priscilla Hemmings, an enslaved servant, cared for more than a dozen of Jefferson’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their visiting cousins. In 2014, restoration department staff removed features such as Levy-era flooring, cement plaster and modern insulation. To return the Nursery to its original appearance, they investigated surviving original elements such as molding, flooring and wall plaster. Curators pored through family inventories, letters and notes to identify what furnishings were used in the Nursery and drew from Monticello’s collection of original baby clothes to add period details to the room.

Massachussetts Historical Society


Terrace Railing Installed circa 1940, the Chinese-inspired railing around Monticello’s terraces had, by 2016, weathered to the point that repairs were not feasible. Historic documents suggest that the first railing Jefferson planned for the terraces used Chinese- inspired panels, but it is unclear whether this railing design was ever installed because it appears that the terraces lacked any protective railings by the 1820s. What caused Jefferson to start planning for the second terrace railing? It may have been an accident in 1822 when he fell from the North Terrace stairs and broke his wrist. Soon afterward, he developed detailed designs for new railings. His extensive notes for the second railing survived — and included sketches, a list of lumber needed, and very specific construction details that even included the type of nails to be used. These records reveal that the new railing was completely different from the earlier Chinese-inspired design. Composed of vertical bars held in place by horizontal rails, the design was drawn from traditional English paling or picket fences rather than Chinese patterns. Documents show that Jefferson installed at least one section of this railing on the South Terrace.

Installed in 2016, the new railing is an accurate reconstruction of an important Jefferson-era feature. The railings are painted the same dark green as the Venetian porch blinds. The color — which also matches the window blinds — reflects the dark color used to illustrate the railings in all three Jefferson-period depictions and a paint sample taken from a surviving fragment of a Venetian porch blind.

Jefferson’s detailed 1824 plans for terrace railings provided critical evidence for the restoration of the terraces and railings (below).

The South Terrace with Chinese railing (above) before it was restored to the more historically accurate appearance with green picket railings (right).


AN ARCHIVE OF FREEDOM Three decades of Getting Word By Niya Bates

Before Monticello historian Lucia “Cinder” Stanton and oral historian Dianne Swann-Wright ever conducted their first oral history interview for the Getting Word African American Oral History Project, they embarked upon their research journey with the belief that “understanding Jefferson and his time” would “help us to understand issues of race today.” Their desire to understand the complex entanglements of slavery, race and freedom during the founding era of the United States has guided the Getting Word project over the past three decades and remains an ever-present charge to the project’s leaders and to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. In December 1993, Stanton and Swann-Wright began interviewing descendants of Elizabeth Hemings in Ohio. During the first two years of the project, they recorded 32 interviews with 52 descendants. They located descendants of the enslaved community in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts and California — a tremendous feat that would not have been possible without the valuable advice and contributions of Ohio genealogist and historian Beverly Gray. Even then, these three dynamic scholars knew they had only scratched the surface. Getting Word started 30 years ago as a small, grant-funded research project, and its future was not guaranteed. “Its longevity has been surprising,” says Gray. “We expected it to be cut at any moment.” For Gray, the project’s endurance is a testament to the commitment of many people, but especially Monticello’s leaders. Dan Jordan and Leslie Greene Bowman — the past two Foundation presidents — directed funding and support toward the work. Stanton tenaciously pursued truth even when descendants’ oral histories challenged long-held beliefs. Swann-Wright and Susan Stein, who is Monticello’s Richard Gilder Senior Curator of Special Projects, embraced new exhibition content and interpretation models that spotlighted the enslaved community, and dozens of descendants extended their trust and shared their stories with Monticello. This unity of effort allowed the project to grow. By 1997, the Foundation began to host gatherings for descendants. That year, more than 110 descendants of enslaved people, their spouses and their extended families returned to Monticello — many of them meeting each other for the first time. After their families were divided by slave auctions, sales and dowries for Jefferson’s married daughters, descendants of the Hemingses, Fossetts, Hugheses, Grangers, Gillettes, Hubbards and other Monticello families have finally been reunited. The largest of the sales that divided these families took place in 1827 and 1829, which dispersed approximately 130 people far and wide. By reconnecting these families, Getting Word has become a reparative and restorative project. Since the first gathering, there have been several more, each one bigger than the last.

As of the beginning of this year, 225 Getting Word participants have been interviewed through the project and countless more have been identified as relatives, including younger generations. Despite these successes, progress was never easy. Historian and Thomas Jefferson Foundation board member Annette Gordon-Reed believed that existing scholarship on Jefferson in the 1990s “denigrated the humanity of Black people” by relying on “widely held prejudices about the people who were slaves in this country,” thus discrediting any information that could be gleaned from their recollections of Jefferson and slavery at Monticello. In 1998, a DNA study by Eugene Foster confirmed oral histories going back more than a century, which further validated the legitimacy of descendants’ stories and gave added credence to Getting Word . The project has always been bigger than one family or one historical figure. From the beginning, Swann- Wright recalled, the project would not be about only Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, or just about the Hemings family. It would focus on the whole African American community and include stories from the Civil

Dianne Swann-Wright, Beverly Gray and Lucia “Cinder” Stanton laid the foundation for Getting Word in the 1990s.

War, Reconstruction, World War I, New Deal and World War II. Today, one of the most compelling aspects of the project remains its commitment to following Monticello families well into freedom and throughout Monticello’s full history as a plantation, including the time during the Levy family’s ownership of Monticello. The Future of Getting Word Since Stanton’s retirement in 2012, a new generation of scholars has continued to expand upon this archive of



The Contemplative Site at the end of Mulberry Row — once the main street of the 5,000- acre Monticello plantation — will be dedicated during this year’s Juneteenth celebration. Globally renowned architect and Monticello board member Peter Cook of HGA, one of the primary designers of the National Museum of African American History & Culture, along with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects developed the design in collaboration with descendants of the enslaved community and staff from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. A wall of Corten steel forms the site’s principal feature. Inspired by the empowering message of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” the weathered steel is perforated by an increasingly dense number of openings as it emerges from the ground once worked by the enslaved. The openings hold the names of the 607 identified men, women and children enslaved by Jefferson during his lifetime. Empty openings incorporated into the design allow for new names to be added as they are discovered. The Contemplative Site provides a space for reflecting on the experience of slavery at Monticello, the people entangled in it, and the impact still felt by society today. The Contemplative Site is made possible by support from Fritz and Claudine Kundrun, Americana Foundation and HGA Architects.

freedom. Aurelia Crawford, Brandon Dillard and Christa Dierksheide kept it going until I was hired in 2016. Since my departure for graduate school, public historian and director of Getting Word Andrew Davenport and Getting Word project assistant Jenna Owens have continued to move the project into new territory. Each generation of leaders has infused the project with something special. Davenport and Owens hope to make Getting Word available to an even wider audience by digitizing it and expanding the outreach to younger members of the Getting Word community. Owens says that seeing descendants on tours and interacting with them has reinforced the fact that Getting Word is very much alive and well. Descendants keep history relevant, and she hopes that the project will be a vehicle for preparing descendants who are members of younger generations to receive the baton passed to them by their elders and ancestors. Along with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Monticello will continue to expand the reach and impact of Getting Word through a generous $3.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Descendants are also taking things into their own hands. In June 2022, artist Jabari Jefferson created a portrait of how he imagined his Monticello ancestors would have memorialized those who were buried at the Burial Ground for Enslaved People.

About the author: Niya Bates previously served as Monticello’s director of African American history and Getting Word African American Oral History Project. She is currently Monticello’s senior fellow for African American history and a Ph.D. candidate in both the Department of History and Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Many descendants have grown up with Getting Word , and many staff from its early days remain connected with Monticello. Reflecting on her hopes for the next 30 years of the project, Gray says, “We are living in an era where people feel lied to about the past. Getting Word showed that slavery should be taught and interpreted at plantations like Monticello. Now we have to ensure that this information is widely available and usable.”

Section of steel wall showing names of people who were enslaved at Monticello.


A visit to Monticello is the ideal centerpiece of an unforgettable trip to central Virginia. Thomas Jefferson’s home is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with an array of historical, cultural and culinary attractions. There are many places to experience and explore in the “neighborhood” that have close ties to the life of Jefferson — most all within minutes of Monticello. Mr. Jefferson’s Neighborhood Monticello is a big, beautiful, thought-provoking place. Leave time to explore the house, Mulberry Row and the spectacular gardens and grounds — most guests spend about three and a half hours on-site. MONTICELLO

David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Carl and Hunter Smith Education Center

The starting point for your Monticello journey features interactive exhibitions about

Jefferson’s life and ideas, a hands- on discovery room for children, classrooms for educational programs, a theater, Monticello Farm Table café, The Shop at Monticello, and more. There is free parking for cars, buses and RVs.

Tours of the House and Grounds We strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance, as many of our tour options sell out early. Family-Friendly Tour Featuring hands-on learning, these tours highlight Jefferson’s ideas and accomplishments and share stories of the people, both free and enslaved, who lived on this working plantation. Behind-the-Scenes Day Pass Go behind the scenes through the first floor of Monticello and up the narrow staircase to explore the private quarters on the second and third floors, including the iconic Dome Room. Highlights Tour Includes iconic first-floor spaces, the West Lawn and the South Wing. Self-Guided Pass A self-guided house tour and access to gardens, grounds and exhibits. From Slavery to Freedom Tour Slavery at Monticello Tours Explore Monticello through the perspectives of the enslaved people who lived and labored on the plantation. Gardens and Grounds Tour Explore Jefferson’s lifelong interest in gardening, botany and agriculture while enjoying the beauty and variety of Monticello’s gardens.

Learn more at .


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