Monticello Update

A new visitors center at Mr. Jefferson’s home

Monticello
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello near Charlottesville, Va.

Credit: Carol Highsmith

Visitors to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello often toured the Founding Father's house and gardens near Charlottesville, Va., but never set foot in the visitors center, which was inconveniently located about two miles away. For the site's directors, that represented a missed opportunity to present a complete portrait of the president's life. But no more. In April, a new $43 million visitors center opened just downhill from Jefferson's famed Neoclassical residence. 

"This is a powerful new gateway to Monticello," says Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. "We wanted to make visiting Monticello more than just a house tour." The goal, she says, was to create "a transformative experience that emphasizes what a remarkable individual Jefferson was, and what a huge impact he's  had on our world today."

The 42,000-square-foot facility is tucked discreetly into the mountainside and includes a gallery space (a current exhibit details the different architectural iterations of the house during Jefferson's lifetime), education center, and café (which serves food grown in Monticello's garden). The project is expected to earn a gold LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. Read more about upcoming changes to LEED.

 

For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.