Today Barb and I had a full day of touring major historical sites outside Charlottesville. First we went to the Visitor Center and bought a Presidents' Pass, which gave us $4 off admission to three attractions: Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland and Michie Tavern.
Our first stop was at Michie Tavern (www.michietavern.com). Michie Tavern, established in 1784 by Scotsman William Michie, served as the social center of its community and accommodated travelers with food, drink and lodging. In 1927, the Tavern was moved 17 miles to its present location close to Monticello. The Ordinary (dining room) is open from 11:00 to 3:30. We were too early to eat there but it didn't really matter. We enjoyed the tour anyhow. Each room has a button which visitors can press to hear a recorded presentation about each room. There also are tours by guides in period costumes but we didn't want to wait for one of those.
Then we traveled just a mile from the tavern to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home (www.monticello.org). Construction began in 1769 according to Jefferson's first design, which was completed (except for porticoes and decorative interior woodwork) when he left for Europe in 1784. Work on a new design for remodeling and enlarging the house began in 1796 and was complete by 1809. There are forty-three rooms in the entire structure: thirty-three in the house itself, four in the pavilions and six under the South Terrace. Visitors enter through the east front. It is the west front that is depicted on the penny. Sadly, photography is not allowed inside.
Our final visit of the day was at Ash Lawn-Highland (www.ashlawnhighland.org). Ash Lawn-Highland is the home of President James Monroe. It is owned and operated by The College of William and Mary, Monroe's alma mater. It is an historic house museum, 535-acre working farm and performing arts site in Albermarle County. President James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth, owned Ash Lawn-Highland from 1793 to 1826 and made it their official residence from 1799 to 1823. After the Monroes' deaths, the name of their farm was changed from "Highland" to "Ash Lawn". Now both names are used. It was called Ash Lawn after the ash trees in front. Part of the house was burned and a new addition was built, connected to the original section. The addition is yellow and the original section is white, which makes for a rather unusual-looking house. It is not nearly so grand as the Jefferson home but, then, Monroe wasn't quite so wealthy. Photography was prohibited inside here, too.
We enjoyed all three of our tours. Afterwards we stopped at a little cafe in town specializing in home-cooked meals. The food was nothing special but we had a nice visit with the cook and the owner. It was mid-afternoon so we were the only customers. I think they were getting ready to close.