Charlottesville, VA | 2.20.12

This was a weekend trip for us, and WELL worth the 3.5 hour drive; the trip was quite a lovely drive. Virginia is beautiful! The first thing we did when we got to town was walk around the University of Virginia, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. What a unique campus! Jefferson was not a trained architect, but designed the campus, curriculum, and hired the first faculty. The campus as a huge “common” area devised by Jefferson to be a collaborative experience for faculty and students, living/studying/teaching in an atmosphere that was integrated, rather than having faculty being on a proverbial pedestal. The multitude of buildings, stone/brick walkways and fences still standing after all these years is extraordinary, as are the lush gardens.

Monticello, Jefferson’s home that he designed, was a work in progress  for many, many years. Touring his home (very reasonable cost, by the way) was absolutely wonderful. We went there in February, which kept many people away because of the temperatures (sweatshirt or jacket weather, light rain). Our tour guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. No photos were allowed inside, but we saw things we’ll always remember. It’s always interesting to me to see a glimpse of how people lived so long ago. In this instance, the dishes, textiles, furnishings, and woodworking were things I could not take my eyes off. What was inside the house was as interesting as what was outside the house. I’m no gardener and even I was impressed by the garden plots and records. Jefferson was extremely in debt when he died (different theories), so his estate was actually sold at auction ($10,500!) to a wealthy businessman/congressman (Jefferson Monroe Levy), whose family took commendable care of the property until they sold it back to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923. Anyway, it was sure a great trip for us, one we’ll always remember, and we both learned a lot. I took lots of pix on this trip, as you’ll see in the photo gallery. 

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