American Icons: Monticello : Slideshow

Friday, February 17, 2012

Courtesy of Monticello, photograph by Geoff Kilmer

Monticello at its most iconic: the West Front of the building.

Courtesy of Monticello, photograph by Leonard G. Phillips

The name Monticello means “little mountain.”  It’s a fitting description – the building sits on the first wave of hills to rise from the Virginia piedmont and offers spectacular views in almost all directions.

Courtesy of Monticello, photograph by Mary Porter

The somewhat less iconic East Front of Monticello still displays the building’s carefully constructed sense of order.

Amanda Aronczyk

Senior Curator Susan Stein says Jefferson often calculated the dimensions in his plans for Monticello to the thousandth of an inch – a level of precision which no workman could ever hope to achieve.

Courtesy of Monticello and Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

Monticello: the dollhouse. Jefferson’s home has also entered America’s pockets – even if most never realize it – as the image on the back of the nickel.

Amanda Aronczyk

The design of Monticello may be beautiful, but it’s not always functional.  This staircase to the top floor is too steep and narrow for most tours.

Courtesy of Monticello, photograph by Leah Stearns

Monticello wasn’t always carefully maintained.  The Dome Room – now restored – was once used for parties by University of Virginia students, who scrawled their names on the wall.

Courtesy of Monticello, photograph by Leah Stearns

The six large occuli in the dome allowed Jefferson to see for miles in any direction.

Amanda Aronczyk

Kurt Andersen examines the inside of Monticello’s dome.

Amanda Aronczyk

Monticello at sunset is idyllic…

Amanda Aronczyk

…but downhill from the house you’ll find Mulberry Row, where up to 50 slaves lived and worked at a time.

Amanda Aronczyk

Susan Stein shows Kurt the Jefferson family graveyard at Monticello.

Amanda Aronczyk

The Jefferson family graveyard has been the site of a recent controversy over who should be allowed burial there.  In 2002, the Monticello Association voted against admitting descendents of Sally Hemings, a slave with whom Jefferson is believed to have had children.

Amanda Aronczyk

The inscription on Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”