Sunday, August 14, 2011
This Old House
As we did waaaay long ago on our trip south, we also made a pit stop on the trip north, just to break up the monotony of the interstate. This particular pit stop had been on my list of places to go while I was in the neighborhood, but I never quite made it. The picture above (taken blind, of course) is from none other than the Dome Room of Monticello. This was the home of Thomas Jefferson, and I am sure you recognize it, for it is also featured on the nickel. (For my younger readers - the nickel is a "coin" which is a form of "cash". This was used to purchase things before "credit cards".)
Monticello was built in the late 1700's and has remained pretty much in tact since. It is restored to its state in about 1815, when "TJ" was retired. He's a pretty smart guy, that TJ. He took interest in gardening, architecture, science, and the arts. He also had a few nutty habits like sleeping in these "alcove beds" which are only like 5 feet long and crammed between walls. He slept sitting up on pillows, and then he put his feet in a bowl of water every day. He claimed this kept him from catching cold.
After the tour, we walked around the grounds and saw some unusual flowers in a horseshoe shaped garden. Most of them were marked "TJ" to indicate that Jefferson had grown them back in his day. Though the house was mostly original (with a few additional steel beams for support - it was a tad rickety), there were also a lot of reproductions of things Jefferson owned. For instance, he gave all his books to the Library of Congress after the British torched DC in the war of 1812, so there were only a few volumes that he actually owned in the house. There were also a lot of reproductions of the paintings he owned, though they did have one of the original Gilbert Stuart paintings of Mr. Jefferson. (I do think it is a little odd that he had a huge picture of himself hanging...but I guess that was the thing to do back in the day.)
How do they know what he owned and planted? Well, he was a bit of a "Type A" person and he kept detailed records of just about everything. Interestingly, he also owned the Natural Bridge, and there was a picture of it hanging in the dining room. I wonder if that makes us groupies?
Anyway, after Monticello, we headed to nearby Charlottesville, VA - home of Jefferson's school, the University of Virginia. The same architect did many of the buildings, and the campus was very nice. Of course, the main attraction was the few breweries in town. And the ability to get a burger after 10pm.
We checked out the South Street Brewery, which was a bit of a hike from our hotel. Looked a lot closer on the map. Ahh, well, it was all worth it for a tasty brew!