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Monticello, located near Charlottesville, Virginia, was the estate of Thomas Jefferson.[1] The word 'Monticello' in Italian means "Little Mountain". The mansion is placed on a mountain in view of the University of Virginia.

In 1768 Jefferson unfolded his plans for a Palladian villa, and the work on the building continued until 1824, two years before his death. The construction of the building was sporadic and slow, partly because of debt that Jefferson had accumulated throughout his political career. When Jefferson was president, half of the rooms were not plastered and many lacked floors.[2] Historian Paul Johnson wrote on the complexities of the building,

"The house was full of ingenious but amateurish Heath Robinson devices such as this, many of which do not work to this day. The library consisted not of shelves but of individual boxes stacked on top of each other, a weird arrangement. The dining-room looked into the tea-room and was only closed off by glass doors, shut in the cold weather. The Dome Rome proved an insoluble problem. There was no way to heat it as a chimney flue would have marred its external appearance-the whole point of its existence-so Jefferson could not install a stove."[3]

The building was constructed with over a half-million bricks which were baked in the Monticello kilns. While serving as Minister to France, Jefferson collected trees, paintings and furniture and brought them to his Virginia estate.[4]

In 1819, due to financial collapse, Jefferson attempted to but failed to sell Monticello.[5] He died with over $100,000 in debt. After his death, practically everything at Monticello was sold in an auction. In 1926 however, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation bought much of the property back.

Monticello is currently open to the public. It is located a couple of miles from the historic home of Jefferson's friend James Monroe, Ash-lawn Highland. Monticello has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1987 Monticello together with the nearby University of Virginia, also designed by Jefferson, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

See also


  1. Map of Monticello location
  2. Paul Johnson, A History of the American People, page. 246
  3. Paul Johnson, A History of the American People, page. 246
  5. Paul Johnson, A History of the American People, page. 248