Thomas Jefferson'S Home: Monticello
Learn about Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
Monticello was built and rebuilt, for more than forty years, by the third United States President, Thomas Jefferson. Today it is an international treasure. Monticello is the only house in America on the United Nations' prestigious World Heritage List of sites that must be protected at all costs. Construction began in 1769 with Jefferson's first design and was completed when he left for Europe in 1784. Work on a new design for remodeling and enlarging the house began in 1796 and was completed by 1809.
Monticello’s architectural style is Roman neoclassicism. There are a total of forty-three rooms, thirty-three in the house, four in the pavilions, and six under the South Terrace. There is also a stable and carriage bays under the North Terrace. The first design of Monticello had fourteen rooms. The house measures 110' long, 87'9" wide, 44'7" high to the top of the dome. There are also thirteen skylights. There are eight fireplaces and two openings for stoves on the main floor of the house.
The bricks and nails were made at Monticello. The timber came from Jefferson's land, however, the window sashes were made in Philadelphia of imported mahogany. Local carpenters and several Monticello slave carpenters did the structural woodwork. The fine woodwork was completed by several skilled white joiners from as far away as Philadelphia. The window glass came from Europe. One-third of the window glass shown in the house today is original.
Stone for the house was quarried on Jefferson's land. All of the stone and brick work was done by local masons.
Jefferson added a dome to Monticello in 1800. In 1989 a piece of glass, hand blown in Austria, was installed in the dome skylight, or oculus. There is both an East Front and a West Front to the house. Visitors today enter through the columned portico of the East Front into the Entrance Hall. Historically, the family and their guests used the door on the West Front, which opens into the Parlor. The house was heated primarily by fireplaces. From 1795 Jefferson used wood-burning stoves in some rooms. Candles provided most of the lighting, as well as a number of oil-burning lamps.
Because Jefferson died in debt, his family was forced to sell the property. In 1923, after several different owners, Jefferson Monroe Levy sold Monticello to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, which owns Monticello today. Many of Jefferson’s original furniture and belongings have been returned to the house. Monticello is open for tours.