November 9, 2017

Visiting Monticello in Charlottesville


Monticello was the plantation of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, designed when he was only 26 years old. Today, it’s owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and acts as a house museum and educational institution. Monticello is one of America’s most notable landmarks. In 1960, it was designated a National Historic Landmark; in 1966, it was placed on the U.S. national Register of Historic Places; and in 1987, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Monticello is a popular destination for thousands of students, tourists, and history buffs each year — and Metropolitan Shuttle can be a part of your next trip.

A Brief History of Monticello

Thomas Jefferson began building Monticello after inheriting some land just outside Charlottesville from his father. The original plantation, at 5,000 acres large, cultivated tobacco and crops (later changing to wheat). The main house of the plantation is an example of neoclassical design, modeled after the work of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, but intended to give a modern flavor and reflect a new, uniquely American design.

The “first Monticello” began construction in 1768, and Jefferson moved into one of the outbuildings in 1770. He left in 1784 to act as Minister of the United States, later returning with new architectural ideas he’d picked up in Europe. He continued to rebuild and make changes to Monticello until his death in 1826.

After Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph inherited the estate. Because of the estate’s debt and problems with Randolph’s family, she sold Monticello to a local apothecary — the first of many sales that would take place over the years.

The estate was purchased in 1923 by the non-profit Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which then began restoration of the grounds and the conversion to a museum.

Catch a Charter Bus to Monticello in Charlottesville

To tour Monticello is to see a snapshot of American history. The architecture of the main house is truly one-of-a-kind, and is one of the most uniquely American buildings in the world. Jefferson’s ideals are also reflected in the architecture of the grounds: from the “Great Clock” and Lewis and Clark memorabilia in the entrance hall, to Jefferson’s library in the south wing, from which eventually came the Library of Congress. Many of the original furnishings from Jefferson’s lifetime are still on display in Monticello.

Visitors to the grounds can observe the outbuildings of the plantation, such as the dairy, washhouse, nail factory, and more. They will also see the historical slave quarters on Mulberry Row, where the slaves who worked on the plantation lived for four generations. Among these quarters is the house of Sally Hemings, whom it is believed had a long-term relationship with Jefferson following the death of his wife.

For those looking for a deeper experience, there’s the nearby David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith Education Center, which offers exhibits and information that will enrich any bus trip to Monticello.

The exhibits include information on the architectural origins of the site, as well as Jefferson’s personal beliefs about liberty and discovery. There’s even a hands-on “discovery room” for younger visitors to do activities. Because Monticello appeared on the two-dollar bill from 1928 to 1966, the gift shop there still hands them out as change.

Monticello is a great educational opportunity and one of America’s great landmarks. Looking to make it a part of your next school outing? Charlottesville is a perfect day-trip distance from Washington, DC, Norfolk, VA or even Raleigh, NC. Metropolitan Shuttle is a reservation service for charter and school buses, and we’ll find you vehicles from the best charter bus companies in Charlottesville. Call us at 1-866-432-9913 or contact us today for a free quote.


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