You have to visit this amazing place...

Regrettably, even I have yet to visit Monticello, the estate of third U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, who spent more than forty years designing, dismantling, and reimagining this "essay in architecture," as he called it. 

The property is regarded a national treasure -- both for its historical significance and beauty. It's perched atop a lofty hill in Albemarle County, Virginia, not far from Jefferson's birthplace of Shadwell. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once wrote, "Monticello speaks to me as an expression of the personality of its builder." 

Indeed, if you were to pick the president with the widest range of hobbies and abilities, Jefferson would have to be in the Top 3. He was a writer, inventor, philosopher, architect, scientist, scholar, gardener, statesman, founder of the University of Virginia, viticulturalist, and the list goes on. Unlike any of the other 43 men to take office, Jefferson was a polymath -- a true intellectual and Renaissance man. 

From extensive gardens that Jefferson himself designed and painstakingly monitored to a broad array of inventions on display in the 43-room House, Monticello reflects the third president's diverse interests. 

Here are a few other fun facts about Monticello:
  • In 1987, Monticello and the University of Virginia were together designed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monticello has been the only residence in the United States to make the prestigious list.
  • Monticello features the first dome ever to be installed on a house in the U.S. 
  • In Italian, Monticello means "little mountain."
  • Jefferson decorated the entrance hall of home with Native American maps, paintings, and artifacts, effectively making it one of the country's first true museums.
  • A number of artifacts in the home were obtained during the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • Jefferson's study at Monticello was known as the Cabinet, and he used it for reading, writing, architectural drafting, and scientific observation.
  • In the Tea Room, Jefferson displayed busts of Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, and John Paul Jones.
  • His Book Room held over 6,000 books, which would be sold to Congress in 1815 to replace the library that was destroyed when the British set the Capitol ablaze in 1814. 
  • Although Jefferson's room today is painted white, historians believe it was wall papered in his day. 
  • Jefferson died July 4, 1826 at Monticello -- on the day marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Coincidentally, John Adams would die a few hours later that same day. 
Have you visited Monticello? Did you know about it before reading this post?

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