Discovering Charlottesville: Monticello, Peach Picking and Michie Tavern
"Monticello sits atop a lofty hill in Albemarle County, Virginia, not far from the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson, its creator and most prominent resident, who spent more than four decades designing, dismantling and re-imagining the estate he called his 'essay in architecture.' A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the property is considered a national treasure not only for its beauty and historical significance but also for what it reveals about the third U.S. president, a complex and controversial figure whose political philosophy fundamentally shaped the nation.” (-History.com) On a beautiful summer day, we set our to immerse ourselves in some rich Virginia history in Charlottesville, VA. Our first stop was beautiful Monticello. We signed up to take on of the tours which gave us an interesting and very informative view of this historic estate. The gardens are also a must see as Jefferson was very innovative in is farming techniques. (Monticello has a fabulous new Visitor's Center which we skipped/are saving for another day as we had several other stops in C'Ville that we wanted to do that day.)
From Monticello, we headed right around the corner to the Carter Mountain Orchard for summer peach picking. It was a hike to the peach fields but you can't beat the gorgeous view of the valley overlooking UVA! There is something so magical about picking your own fruit from a tree. The peaches were the size of your hand! Gorgeous! (We brought them home and later made peach ice cream and a peach crisp thanks to recipes form Carter Mountain!) http://www.cartermountainorchard.com/in-the-kitchen/recipes/peach-crisp)
One-half mile below Monticello, our last stop was Michie Tavern for a very late lunch. This historic tavern (ca. 1784), originally located on Patrick Henry's land, offers vistors the opportunity to experience 18th-century tavern life. Servers in period costume offer "Colonial Midday Fare' such as southern fried chicken, hickory smoked BBQ, black-eyed peas, buttermilk biscuits and more. Informative living-history tours are also conducted on the grounds. (My kids learned how to do the Virginia Reel!) After a delightful meal, we finished our day at the Tavern's General Store where the kids picked out penny-candy for the ride home.
What we learned:
Open to new ideas from far-flung sources, Thomas Jefferson incorporated gardening traditions from England, France, Spain and the Mediterranean, West Africa, and Creole culture.
With boundless enthusiasm, Jefferson sought seeds and distributed them. He received them from the Lewis and Clark expedition, from neighbors and friends across America, and from an international community of plantsmen. Jefferson experimented with over 330 varieties and some 99 species of vegetables.
Jefferson's invention include: a seven-day clock calendar, the polygraph, the spherical sundial and a revolving service door.
Because Jefferson died more than $107,000 in debt, his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph and her son and financial manager, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, found it necessary first to sell nearly all of the contents of Monticello and then to sell the plantation itself. In 1827, the furniture, animals, farm equipment, and slaves were offered at an executor's sale.