Friday, August 31, 2012

A Visit to the "Little Mountain"

Several months ago when fiance and I were planning out our summer schedule we tossed around the idea of going to Montreal. We were both very excited about the idea and I even bought a little travel guide. But as the summer arrived, I felt that there simply weren't enough weeks available and it seemed expensive. Not expensive as a Europe trip for sure, but still quite pricey. Given my the quarter system at my school, I didn't really get to enjoy summer until the very last week of June. I sort of panicked about the timing and felt like I didn't have enough time to relax and work. So instead of going to Montreal, we decided to go to Monticello. I've been wanting to visit for years and it was always something we had joked about. It seemed the right time to turn the joke into a reality. We went online and found a cute little B&B in Charlottesville and made a 36 hour trip out of it.

We stayed at the Dinsmore House in downtown Charlottesville. It was in a great location, super close to shops and restaurants. We had a great free breakfast in the morning and parking right behind the hotel. I loved that the inn was built and originally owned by the same architect that built Monticello. It was very charming and had great character. I didn't love that the building across the street was under major renovations or that they only served breakfast until 9 A.M. But it was cozy and the bed was comfortable and we were happy.

We stayed in the library room.
It had some really cute Americana furnishings. I should mention, that while fiance and I love to find historic B&B's, we under no circumstances share bathrooms or participate in the social events. Just want a clean, comfortable room, please and thank you.

Entrance. We took two tours, the first is the normal tour of the lower floor. This tour includes the entry hall, parlor, sitting room, Jefferson's bedroom, study and office, a guest bedroom where Madison often stayed, dinning room and tea room. The second tour took us upstairs to see the family bedrooms, sitting rooms, the dome room and the nursery.
Front of the home.

The whole top of the mountain thing really makes sense when you saw the views.
 The view above the gardens out to the mountains. Unbelievably beautiful.
The trees alone were worth the trip. So unbelievably gorgeous. It didn't hurt that we were there on a perfect day. Warm, but not too humid and just perfect in the shade.
Jefferson's cool wind invention. Because taking notes on the direction of the wind is very important.
 Hour hand of the clock.
 Back garden.
 Back of the house.
 Laundry room.
 Underground hall with kitchen, wine and beer cellars, and storage.
Vegetable and fruit gardens.
 Dome room. Such a cool room, but really really impractical.

All in all, we were so glad we did the tours and visited Monticello. We met some seriously interesting characters, including the dorkiest guy who had to film and photograph EVERY. SINGLE. WINDOW. and door. and wall. And he tried to really prove his knowledge. Which annoyed the bejesus out of me. There was also a very traditional, orthodox Jewish couple who were appalled that the tour guide referred to Thomas Jefferson's daughter as Martha Jefferson, instead of Martha Jefferson Randolph (her married name). THE HORROR! The day also made me so thankful that I have a fiance who is willing and enjoys going to these sorts of activities. I know they are not everyone's cup of tea, but since history is my profession, it's nice to have someone I can share it with.

As a future historian, I love seeing all things old and testing my knowledge against these sorts of tours. I always do a little happy dance on the inside when I know the answer to the question and the tour guide doesn't. I'm sure that makes me a terrible person, but it's nice to know my education and hard work is paying off in some weird way. Since there isn't much in the way of monetary gain in the historical profession, I like to think that having this knowledge is a reward. Ok, I'm really grasping at straws here, but don't rain on my parade!

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