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Monticello, "little mountain" in Italian, was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, from 1770 until his death in 1826. The only American house on the World Heritage List, it has been owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation since 1923.

Monticello, plays a major role in the economy of the City of Charlottesville and the surrounding County of Albemarle - often referred to as “Jefferson’s country.” Monticello is the area’s primary tourist attraction, and in that capacity, its visitors generate revenue from lodging, food, transportation, and entertainment expenditures.[1]

Monticello’s Economic Impact on the Charlottesville-Albemarle Area

To measure the economic impact of Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation contracted with the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service to perform a detailed study. Work began in late summer 2000 and was completed in December 2001. The study determined Monticello’s 525,147 visitors in calendar year 2000 fell into two groups: (1) general visitors who are in individual travel parties or with tour groups, and (2) school group visitors. There were 420,118 general visitors and 105,029 visitors in school groups. The direct spending of these visitors in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area amounted to $33.9 million. Many of the dollars were recirculated locally so that the final impact was $47.2 million. [2]

Note: $33,900,000 in 2000 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $50,950,730 in 2020, an increase of $17,050,730 over 20 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.06% per year between 2000 and 2020, producing a cumulative price increase of 50.30%. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 6.99% per year between 2020 and 2022.


Like most museums, Monticello had to close in the early days of the COVID-19 Emergency. They reopened on June 13, 2020 under Phase 2 of the Forward Virginia plan. [3]


Construction of Monticello started in 1768 and was finished in 1805. The building was made almost entirely by materials which were prepared on site and was built mostly by slaves.

After Jefferson died in 1826, the house was sold in order to pay back debts acquired in Jefferson's lifetime. It was purchased by Commodore Uriah P. Levy in 1836. After Levy bought the mansion, it remained in the family until 1923 with the exception of its confiscation by the Confederate government during the Civil War. Public desire for the government to buy Monticello started as early as 1910, although Jefferson Levy said that he would never sell the mansion. However, after World War 1, Levy faced financial struggles which forced him to sell the house.[4]

The National Monticello Association announced on March 1, 1923, that it would purchase the estate from Jefferson Levy for a sum of $500,000.[5] Plans were announced in February 1925 to restore the home to the way it was in Jefferson's day.[6]

Connection to public water and sewer

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved a plan in the mid-2010's determine to extend public sewer services to Monticello, its visitor center, and other buildings. The foundation also wants to extend water lines to fuel storage tanks in order to provide more protection from fire.[7]

Slavery at Monticello

Monticello was built largely by enslaved persons. Over 50 enslaved persons at a time worked on the mountain and tended to the upkeep of the building. However, most of the slave dwellings in Monticello, in an area called Mulberry Row, are no longer standing. Only the working areas within Monticello itself, such as the storerooms and the kitchen, are still standing.

Because none of the structures in Mulberry Row still stood, slavery at Monticello was not well understood until the late 20th century. Research into slavery at Monticello started in the 1970s. In 1979, this research expanded when Mulberry Row was excavated. Findings from Mulberry Row has given a number of insights into the life of slaves at Monticello. Differing structures show that the quality of housing varied for different slaves. Artifacts also include pottery, glass, coins, animal bones, and some jewelry.[8]

In 2016, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation hired Gayle Jessup White and Niya Bates to help improve the way in which the story of slavery at the plantation is told. White was hired as a community outreach officer and Bates was hired as a public historian of slavery and African-American life.[9]


Monticello is located in Albemarle County and is administered by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Coordinates:Erioll world.svg.png 38°00′37″N 78°27′08″W / 38.010332°N 78.452339°W / 38.010332; -78.452339

Community History Series

On September 17, 1974, the Jefferson Cable Corporation filmed a brief documentary at Monticello. This episode, narrated by Bernard Chamberlain, describes the history of the US Constitution.


Naturalization ceremony

Every Independence Day, a naturalization ceremony is held to welcome new American citizens. A notable speaker is selected each year.


  • 1936 ‐ President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • 1947 ‐ President Harry S. Truman
  • 1976 ‐ President Gerald R. Ford
  • 2008 – President George W. Bush [10]

Governors of Virginia

  • 1971 ‐ Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr.
  • 1976 ‐ Justice Albertis S. Harrison Jr.
  • 1978 ‐ Governor John N. Dalton
  • 1982 ‐ Governor Charles S. Robb
  • 1987 ‐ Governor Gerald L. Baliles
  • 1990 ‐ Governor L. Douglas Wilder
  • 1999 ‐ Governor James S. Gilmore III
  • 2015 ‐ Governor Terence R. McAuliffe

All Speakers

Year Speaker
1963 Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia
1964 Henry J. Taylor, former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland
1965 Hervé Alphand, Ambassador of France to the United States
1966 Torben Rønne, Ambassador of Denmark to the United State
1967 Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury
1968 Eugene V. Rostow, Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Department of State
1969 U. Alexis Johnson, Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Department of State
1970 J. Sergeant Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
1971 Mills E. Godwin, Jr., former Governor of Virginia
1972 Harry F. Byrd, U.S. Senator from Virginia
1973 Albertis S. Harrison, Jr., Justice, Virginia Supreme Court, and former Governor of Virginia
1974 Louis B. Wright, Director Emeritus, Folger Shakespeare Library
1975 Dumas Malone, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Virginia
1976 Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States
1977 Caryl Parker Haskins, Trustee, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation
1978 John N. Dalton, Governor of Virginia
1979 Clifton Waller Barrett, Trustee, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation
1980 Charles F. Baldwin, Ambassador in Residence, Univ. of Virginia
1981 Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Univ. of Virginia
1982 Charles S. Robb, Governor of Virginia
1983 J. Kenneth Robinson, U.S. Representative, 7th Congressional District of Virginia
1984 John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary of the Army
1985 John W. Warner, U.S. Senator from Virginia
1986 Kenneth W. Thompson, Director, White Burkett Miller Center for Public Affairs at the Univ. of Virginia
1987 Gerald L. Baliles, Governor of Virginia
1988 John Charles Thomas, Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia
1989 Henry J. Abraham, James Hart Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, Univ. of Virginia
1990 L. Douglas Wilder, Governor of Virginia
1991 Jacques Andreani, Ambassador of France to the United States
1992 Carl Sagan, David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cornell University
1993 John T. Casteen III, President, Univ. of Virginia
1994 David McCullough, biographer and historian
1995 Roberto C. Goizueta, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
1996 Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
1997 General Colin L. Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense
1998 Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
1999 James S. Gilmore III, Governor of Virginia
2000 Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State
2001 Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York
2002 Frank McCourt, author
2003 Allen H. Neuharth, founder of USA Today and The Freedom Forum
2004 W. Richard West, Jr., founding director of Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian
2005 I.M. Pei, architect
2006 Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists
2007 Sam Waterston, actor
2008 George W. Bush, President of the United States
2009 Tom Perriello, U.S. Representative, 5th Congressional District of Virginia
2010 Tracey Ullman, actress and comedienne
2011 Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer The Coca-Cola Company
2012 Nadia Comaneci, five-time Olympic gold medalist
2013 Dave Matthews, musician
2014 David M. Rubenstein, co-Founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group
2015 Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia
2016 Larry J. Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics
2017 David N. Saperstein, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom and prominent Reform rabbi
2018 Andrew H. Tisch, Co-Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Executive Committee Loews Corporation, and co-author of Journeys: An American Story
2019 Khizr Khan, constitutional rights and national unity advocate and Gold Star parent
2020 José Andrés, chef and humanitarian
2021 Various

External links


  3. Web. Monticello to reopen Saturday with new health protocols, guest experience, CJ Paschall, News Article, WVIR NBC29, June 11, 2020, retrieved June 13, 2020.
  4. Heblich, F., Jr., & Walters, C. C. (1978). Holsinger's Charlottesville- Selected Photographs From the Collection of Rufus W. Holsinger. Charlottesvle, Virginia: Maiden Lane Press.
  5. Web. Association Will Buy Monticello, Daily Progress Staff, Daily Progress, March 2, 1923, retrieved January 15, 2013.
  6. Web. Monticello Soon Will Be Restored As Originally, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, February 5, 1925, retrieved May 18, 2016 from University of Virginia Library. Print. January 23, 1925 page 1.
  7. Web. County poised to O.K. public sewer, water expansion at Monticello, Graelyn Brashear, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, November 13, 2013, retrieved November 18, 2013. Print. November 13, 2013 .
  8. Loth, C. (Ed.). (1995). Virginia Landmarks of Black History. Charlottsville, Virginia: Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.
  9. Web. New hires look to better tell story of African-American life at Monticello, Michael Bragg, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, July 17, 2016, retrieved July 25, 2016.
  10. Web. 2008 Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, Deepak Singh, Podcast, Charlottesville Podcasting Network, July 4, 2008, retrieved March 27, 2021.