Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Virginia Miscellany

As I mentioned in my previous post, Kali and I went to Charlottesville, Virginia, last week during our Spring Break to (1) visit Monticello, home of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and (2) explore the town to see if it might be a good place to retire in six years or so.

Jefferson took nearly 40 years to complete his dream home on the crest of a hill in one of his plantations.  He delighted in "building up and tearing down."  The dome on the west side of the house was added to the original structure after Jefferson spent time in Europe and had a chance to observe classical architecture in France and Italy.

In its heyday, the widowed Jefferson and his sister's large family were served by nearly 100 slaves at Monticello.  Of course, the inherent inconsistencies between Jefferson's belief that "all men are created equal" and the fact that he owned 400 slaves has yet to be resolved or fully understood.

Kali in the kitchen garden below Monticello.
The (in)famous Mulberry Row of slave quarters and workhouses 
occupied the flat at the top of the slope on the right.

More of the kitchen garden with Monte Alto (also part of the plantation) in the background

While we were in Charlottesville, we also visited the University of Virginia.  UVa was also on Spring Break, so there were few students about.  Jefferson founded the university after he retired from his government positions, and he designed the campus.
The Rotunda, signature building on the University of Virginia campus.
Notice any similarities to Monticello?

A colonnade on the University of Virginia campus
We also looked at real estate, both in the city and out in the country.  The house for sale pictured below, called Wakefield, dates from 1790, though it's been significantly modified and updated.  We already live in a house dating from 1790; I'm not ready to take on another endless remodeling project, but the view was nice, and there's an enticing stream (alas, just off the property) just down the hill from the house.
Wakefield (c. 1790)

The view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 20 miles away,
 from the deck on the upper level


packrat said...

Scott: When I was stationed in Norfolk many moons ago I had the chance to visit many historical sites. Your beautiful photos reminded me of how gorgeous that part of the country is.

Wakefield is nice to look at, but I wouldn't go near that fixer-upper even with Bob Vila's crew.

Scott said...

I'm glad that I could conjure up good memories for you, Packrat.

Even from just walking around the exterior, Kali and I quickly decided that Wakefield was just too much for us at our age. Plus, as Kali pointed out the instant we opened the car door, there's a cattle pasture right across the road that smelled strongly of manure--even in March.

John Gray said...

the wakefield farmhouse is a delight.... the original wakefield is a town in Yorkshire... I know it well