Tag Archive | Virginia

All The Presidents’ Homes–Part 3

This morning is pretty much like the morning that Jeff and I visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  It was grey, it was cold and it was rainy.  The sun wasn’t out making it feel colder than it was. But even in the grey, gloomy mist, Monticello shone brightly, surrounded by the beauty of the blooming flowers around her.

Thomas-Jefferson

Best known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, our third President was also a historian, philosopher, and plantation owner who served his country as a public official for more than five decades.  Thomas Jefferson was also the author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and founder of the University of Virginia.

Son of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph, he inherited a sizeable estate from his father and at the age of 26, began building Monticello.  Just three years later he married Martha Wayles Skelton.  They had six children with only two surviving to adulthood.  Sadly they only had 10 years together when she died.  Jefferson never remarried and continued to maintain Monticello as his home for the rest of his life.  He was always expanding and changing it.  He also inherited slaves from his father and father-in-law and owned about 200 slaves, about half of whom were under the age of 16.

Jefferson spent his adult life in public service whether as a lawyer, Governor of Virginia from 1779 go 1781, Trade Commissioner in France (1784) and then as Benjamin Franklin’s successor as minister, and Secretary of State under George Washington in 1790 and after a loss in the presidential race against John Adams, becomes Vice President in 1796. A two-term President, Jefferson defeated John Adams just four years later to become President of the United States in 1780. After his friend, James Madison, succeeds him as President in 1809, Jefferson lives the remaining 17 years of his life at Monticello.  It was during this time he sold his books to begin the Library of Congress collection and founded the University of Virginia at the age of 76.  He led the legislative campaign for its charter, secured the location, designed the buildings and planned the curriculum and also served as the first rector.

Jefferson dies at the age of 83 on July 4, 1826, just hours before his friend, John Adams and also on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Honeymoon Monticello 036

Jefferson’s beloved Monticello sits nestled in the mountaintop hills southeast of Charlottesville, Virginia, just down the road from the home of his friend, President James Madison. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, Monticello’s hours gives you a choice of when you want to visit her.  We chose to visit in the early Spring month of April and while on our honeymoon several years ago.

Honeymoon Monticello 053

Construction of Monticello began in 1769 and the original design had fourteen rooms in the home which included the six in the cellar, five on the first floor and three on the second.  In 1796, Jefferson began work on a new design for remodeling and enlarging the house and was completed by 1809.  There are not a total of 43 rooms in the entire structure which includes 33 in the house itself and 4 in the Pavilions and 6 under the South Terrace.

Honeymoon Monticello 083

The ride on the bus from the Visitor’s Center to the house atop the hill is impressive, even in the rain! Of course, the excitement was building for me as I’d never been to Monticello.  No photography is allowed inside the house, so we decided to walk the grounds first before going on the tour.  All the photography and video you want to take is allowed on the grounds as long as it’s for personal use. 

Honeymoon Monticello 066

Tulips, pansies and bluebells line the walkways in the West Lawn garden. I saw varieties there that, for me, had only existed in books prior to our visit.  Needless to say, I wanted pictures of them all!

Honeymoon Monticello 055

Deep oranges, yellows, reds and whites and many more colors as well as other flowers can be found all over the grounds.  Lilac bushes, pansies…this is a flower gardener’s dream!

Honeymoon Monticello 046

We loved the rain drops on the flowers and tired to capture them on camera as beautiful as they were in person.

Honeymoon Monticello 044

Pansies are another one of my favorite flowers.

Honeymoon Monticello 043

Jefferson used the grounds of Monticello as a botanical laboratory utilizing not only the ornamental but also useful plants from all over the world. These flower gardens were not cared for by professionals but by his daughters and granddaughters and sometimes an elderly slave.

Honeymoon Monticello 070

I have always loved the reds and yellows of tulips, but the bi-colored ones hold a really special place for me.

Honeymoon Monticello 069

This is the fish pond where Jefferson’s cook would “catch” the fish for dinner.  Thus allowing them to have fresh fish at their meals.

Honeymoon Monticello 071

About one-third of the windows are original to the house.  They are nice, big and allow a lot of sunlight into the rooms.  And they are absolutely beautiful from the outside!

Honeymoon Monticello 067

From it’s beginning in 1770, the vegetable garden evolved over many years.  This 1,000-foot-long terrace was literally cut from the side of the mountain by slave labor and is supported by a massive rock wall.  At the half-way point is the infamous garden pavilion with its double sash windows.  This was used by Jefferson as a quiet retreat in the evenings.  Reportedly blown down in a violent storm in the late 1820s, the pavilion was reconstructed in 1984 through the use of Jefferson’s notes and archeological excavations.

Honeymoon Monticello 051

Jefferson was quite observant of the natural world.  He was always studying and recording, with remarkable detail, the events of the gardens.  In 1812, the twenty-four “squares” that divided the garden were arranged in part as to which part of the plant was being harvested: fruits, roots or leaves, etc.  And although the garden was a functional part of the plantation, Jefferson experimented with imported squashes and other vegetables and fruits from various parts of Europe.

Honeymoon Monticello 049

It was interesting to learn that Jefferson ate very little meat and used it as a compliment to the vegetables and legumes from his own gardens.  I loved the fact that salads were an important part of his diet as they are for me as well!

Honeymoon Monticello 073Honeymoon Monticello 076

Exiting from the house, you will step onto a beautiful walkway that leads into the garden.

Honeymoon Monticello 057

Honeymoon Monticello 059

We loved our visit at Monticello and learned so much about Jefferson’s life here.  If you ever get the chance to visit Monticello, you should.  It’s well worth the afternoon.

Advertisements

The Generals of Lexington, VA

Continuing our day in Lexington, Virginia, our next stop was Washington and Lee University. Nestled in the hills of Lexington, this beautiful campus sits atop the hill next to the Virginia Military Institute’s campus.

038

Despite the overcast skies and looming storms, this was a beautiful campus to walk around. It was founded in 1749 and was first named Augusta Academy and went through a move and several name changes, but when native son General George Washington stepped in to help save this all male school in 1796 with its first endowment, it was later renamed Washington College out of gratitude for his generosity.  By then, the College was in its present-day location of Lexington.

045

This private, liberal arts school sits between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and is the 9th oldest school of higher learning in our nation.  Virginia’s other native son, General Robert E. Lee became President of the College in 1865 and worried that his leadership in the Confederacy could bring hostility towards the school.  He said that “it was the duty of every citizen in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony.”  Following Lee’s death in 1879, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the college to Washington and Lee University. It wasn’t until 1972 when women were first admitted to its Law School and undergraduate women were admitted in 1985.

Lee Chapel is where General Lee and his beloved horse, Traveller are buried.  We were disappointed that photography is not allowed inside the chapel or the museum, but did enjoy the small collection that is there.  If you know in advance that you will be there, you can request express written permission from the University, but there are severe restrictions and limited allowances for use of the photos.

When you walk into the chapel’s foyer, you have an entrance on either side. Rows of white pews lining both sides, the middle and the surrounding balcony up above seats 500. It is still used today for the University’s most important events, such as concerts, lectures and other activities.  Just whispering to each other, my husband and I could tell that the acoustics are absolutely wonderful in this Chapel. (One cannot walk into this Chapel and not whisper! It just isn’t right to speak loudly in there!) General Lee’s favorite pew is marked with a plaque and shows that the General enjoyed sitting right up front!

Lexington - Lee Chapel

At the front of the chapel behind the wooden stage, nestles the monument of a reclining General Lee, without his sword at the request of his beloved wife. You may think that he is interred at this very spot, but he is not.  You have to take the narrow, winding stairs downstairs to the crypt where General Lee and several of his family members are buried. Also downstairs is a small museum and gift shop. Traveller’s grave is just outside the door as you exit.

044 

Our last stop was for another Confederacy General, who happens to be one of my husband’s favorite civil war historical figures. He is General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. A professor at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), he is also buried here in Lexington.  Set right on the main street, leading into town, the wrought iron fence points the way to the tomb of Stonewall Jackson.

047

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate General, is one of the most well-known officers of the Confederacy after General Robert E. Lee. He was considered to be one of the best tactical commanders in the history of our great nation.  He was a graduate of West Point and from there served in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. It was during that time he first met Robert E. Lee.  It was at Bull’s Run that General Jackson earned his nickname, “Stonewall”. Crumbling under heavy Union assault, the Confederate lines were lucky to have General Jackson’s brigade there to provide crucial reinforcements stoically demonstrating the discipline that he had instilled in his men. Brig. General Elliott Bee, Jr. inspired his men to re-group by shouting out that there Jackson stood like a “stone wall” and to rally behind the Virginians.  Despite the controversy that followed the intent of the statement, General Jackson was forevermore known as “Stonewall” Jackson.

056

We were able to take a few more photos of this serene corner of Lexington.  We didn’t walk all around the cemetery as there was a service in session.  It is a beautiful place for so many who have been laid to rest here.

059

049

062

064

Thank you, Lexington for such a nice afternoon filled with so much history!

Ordinary? We don’t do ordinary!

Lexington, Virginia is a well preserved downtown and its historical sites invite you to step back through time.  Taking the short jaunt off of I-81 into Lexington, you’ll find it is a winding path that leads to a beautiful little town tucked into the hills that make Lexington.  Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center on East Washington Street.

002

Lexington is a picturesque town and the Civil War era buildings give each street so much character. Who knew so much history is tucked into these rolling hills? Driving through Downtown, you pass this ordinary door not realizing that it was the home of Stonewall Jackson! It is open daily March – December. For those of you who didn’t know, General Jackson was a professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in 1851.

Lexington - Stonewall Jackson Home2  Stonewall_Jackson_House

Sitting on 134 acres, 12 are designated as the Virginia Military Institute Historic District and since 1839 Virginia Military Institute has been educating and preparing cadets to lead is all aspects of their lives. It is the oldest state-supported military college in the United States. After driving through town, we decided to walk around this hilltop campus.

004

Some notable alumni include George S. Patton, Sr., grandfather to George Smith Patton, Jr.; Benjamin Franklin Ficklin, a founder of the Pony Express; Harry Watkey Easterly, Jr., President of the USGA and First Executive Director; Baseball player Ryan Glynn; General George Marshall, Nobel Prize winner and US Secretary of Defense (1950) as well as the Chief of Staff of the Army during World War II; Brigadier General Frank McCarthy who was also a producer of the 1970 Academy Award winning movie Patton; Pro football player Bobby Thomason who was an NFL Pro Bowl Quarterback; Basketball player Reggie Williams and actor Dabney Coleman.

014

Four of the Barrack’s five arched entries are named after George Washington, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, George C. Marshall ‘01, and Jonathan Daniels ‘61.

016

Cadet-guided tours of the campus are available and can be arranged through the VMI Museum. They are offered daily and begin at the lobby of the VMI Museum in Jackson Memorial Hall.

011

Here is an inside courtyard view of the barracks.

017

The parade grounds are impressive! Here is an awesome view from the end of the field by Stonewall Jackson’s statute.

032

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson looks over the parade grounds above the cannons.  He’s quite the impressive statute!

025

031

Couldn’t leave the VMI Post without seeing their football field! For college football fans everywhere, a football field is always a must-see!

034

Even though we were leaving the VMI Post, our visit in Lexington was not over. Stay tuned for more….

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Smile! You’re on Jeffery Camera, it’s March 20, 2012!

We were married in April 2009 and for our honeymoon, we decided on a road trip that encompassed our nation’s Capital City, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and Appomattox Court House. One of our first stops was in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d always wanted to see Monticello, the home of our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson. So, on the way to D.C., we stopped to see Mr. Jefferson’s home.

Our day was a rainy one. The fog sat heavily on the ground, hiding most of the views. Lucky for us, the rain let up for a while and we were able to walk the grounds of Monticello.  What a lovely place it is! I could almost imagine it all those years ago when Mr. Jefferson lived there!

Tulips are my favorite flower, which is why I chose a Spring wedding. I was able to carry them in my bouquet as well. Wouldn’t you know, walking around the grounds of Monticello I see beds and beds of beautiful flowers lining the walkways, including my wonderful tulips!

My super special new Hubby/ Hot Groom decided to take several photos of my favorite flower. As you will see, they turned out beautifully! We’ve begun framing our photography as art in our home. So, now we share them with you!

Enjoy while you tiptoe through the tulips…

Yellow Tulip 4-2009

Honeymoon Monticello 048

Honeymoon Monticello 069

Are these not just some of the most beautiful tulips ever? I’ve been to Europe and saw the beautiful tulips there, but I enjoyed these every bit as much, if not more! (Could it be that it was because I was on a vacation with the Love of my life?)

We didn’t mind the misty rain at all. As a matter of fact, I think it made our photos that much better!

There were some varieties of tulips that I’d never seen up close and in person. So this walk around the garden – where Thomas Jefferson once strolled – was particularly delightful for me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Every time I look at them my heart and soul is flooded with wonderful memories. And, I can almost smell them!

Honeymoon Monticello 070

Honeymoon Monticello 083

This is one of my favorite shots of Monticello. The mist hanging around it, just hugging it, while the tulips stand at attention drinking in every drop of the rain! Simply breathtaking!

Honeymoon Monticello 073

I don’t know about you, but I could just “tiptoe through the tulips” all day! So, let’s keep strolling, okay?

Honeymoon Monticello 055

Honeymoon Monticello 076

Honeymoon Monticello 079

Wishing you and yours a very Happy First Day of Spring! May your days be as beautiful our stroll!

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson