Presented by the Community Events Committee of the Salisbury Association in Collaboration with the Scoville Memorial Library
Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello was a farm of 5,000 acres. Built as a plantation house, it eventually took on the architectural form of a villa. While it exhibits many architectural antecedents,Jefferson went beyond them to build something unique. He consciously sought to create a new architecture for a new nation.
Work on “The first Monticello” began in 1768. In 1784 he went to France to serve as Minister of the United States and while in Europe he saw many classical buildings and discovered “modern” trends in French architecture. In 1794, Jefferson began rebuilding his house based on the ideas he had acquired in Europe. The remodeling continued throughout most of his presidency Although generally completed by 1809, Jefferson continued work on the present structure until his death in 1826.
Jefferson added a center hallway and a parallel set of rooms to the structure, more than doubling its size. He removed the second full-height story from the original house and replaced it with a mezzanine bedroom floor. The interior is centered on two large rooms, which served as an entrance-hall-museum, where Jefferson displayed his scientific interests, and a music-sitting room.The most dramatic element of the new design was an octagonal dome, which he placed above the west front of the building in place of a second-story portico.
Monticello was a botanic laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world. Jefferson grew 330 vegetable varieties in Monticello’s 1,000-foot-long garden terrace and 170 fruit varieties of apples, peaches, grapes, and more.