Twitter

Affiliate Disclosure: This is a professional review blog which gets compensated for the products recommended and reviewed by the companies who produce them and our affiliates. All of the products are tested thoroughly and high grades are received only by the best ones. We are independent bloggers and the recommendations and reviews are based on our own opinions.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia

Poplar Forest is a unique place to visit in Virginia for fans of Thomas Jefferson, American Architecture or Historic Preservation. The site is a retreat that Thomas Jefferson designed for himself near present-day Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early 1800s as a get-away from his busy life at Monticello. Get an intimate view of the home, its construction, the enslaved community and the man himself which is unlike any visit to Monticello.


Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia


Ever since George Washington began using Mount Vernon as his escape from official duties, American presidents have enjoyed private retreats.  For Thomas Jefferson, that place was Poplar Forest.


Enjoy our Live Visit to Poplar Forest and PLEASE support our YouTube Channel by Subscribing HERE



Poplar Forest is one of only two homes Jefferson designed for his personal use. Jefferson inherited the Bedford County plantation in 1773 and work began on the home about 1806. When his presidency ended in 1809, he visited the retreat three or four times a year, often staying for several months at a time during planting seasons.


The Italian-style villa near Lynchburg, Virginia was a place for Jefferson to, in his own words, "detach myself from public life, which I have never loved, and retire to the bosom of my family, my friends, my farm and my books, which I have always loved."  Today, over two centuries after Jefferson's death, Poplar Forest retains the quiet dignity of a country retreat. Jefferson's public house, Monticello, will host a half million visitors this year. By contrast, only 35,000 will visit Poplar Forest, 90 miles south of Monticello, in the same time.

Yet despite its low public profile when compared to Monticello, Poplar Forest is a detour worth taking -- especially for anyone with an interest in Thomas Jefferson and architectural restoration which you can experience up close and personal.

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia


The property was sold soon after Jefferson’s death in 1826 and the home was maintained as a private residence well into the 20th century. A nonprofit group, the Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest, purchased the property in 1984; it was opened to the public for the first time in 1986.

The estate's owners -- a private, non-profit corporation -- have meticulously researched the house and some of the grounds. Now they're restoring the estate.

The historical process, and not just the results, are front-and-center in this restoration. Tradesmen keep the faith with Jefferson's original vision for Poplar Forest by using special tools and period techniques. For example: Custom-made, hand-molded reproduction bricks and lime mortars from historic recipes were used in restoring masonry. And white oak floors were hand-planed and re-laid in the original herringbone pattern.

One of the rooms of the house has been left bare so that you may be able to see the original construction of the home before its many reiterations over the centuries, including damage from a devastating fire which occurred in 1845.  See details of "alcove beds" in each of the large bedchambers, which Jefferson felt saved space.

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia



In contrast to Monticello, Jefferson incorporated much into the design of Poplar Forest that he was unable to at his original home.  He wanted many aspects of the house’s interior design to reflect buildings he had seen in France. He especially liked the light-filled interiors there, and both the skylight in the dining room and the floor-to-ceiling windows in the parlor are French touches. Jefferson filled the south wall with triple-sash windows: when the bottom two portions are raised the window opening serves as a doorway to the porch. Jefferson often read in this south-facing room, which would have been flooded with light.

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia



Even in the dining room where the infamous skylight is located, period accurate pottery and porcelain is on display.  We love this coffee canister that is a replica of early American pottery to remind you of Thomas Jefferson before and after your visit!  Hand-glazed by an American potter, it has a pewter plaque bearing Jefferson’s quotation, “Coffee, the favorite drink of the civilized world.”   Learn more at Amazon and support our blog by clicking the photo below!  Thank you!




In each of the large bedchambers, Jefferson’s workmen installed “alcove beds,” which Jefferson felt saved space. An indoor privy—or toilet—was tucked away beneath the stairwell next to Jefferson’s bedchamber, an unusual convenience for the time.

One important aspect of the exterior was also influenced by French architecture. Jefferson had observed that “all of the new and good houses” in Paris were of a single story. He designed the house Poplar Forest to be built into the crown of a hill, so that his two-story house would appear to be a single story from the front.

Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia





Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia


Check for events before you go.  Occasionally you may spot Thomas Jefferson himself at the home or see citizens have their naturalization ceremony at this historic place on Constitution Day!  Look for the sites of active investigation since Poplar Forest employs several full-time archeologists that work on restoring the home and grounds house to Jefferson’s design.  Significant findings occur constantly and many of those findings are on display in the home, such as:




Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia

No comments:

Post a Comment