Monticello (mŏnˌtĭsĕlˈō, –chĕlˈō) [key] [Ital., = little mountain], estate, 640 acres (259 hectares), central Va., near Charlottesville; home of Thomas Jefferson for 56 years. The mansion, which he designed, was begun in 1770 on property inherited from his father. The building materials—stone, brick, lumber, and nails—were prepared on the estate, and most of the construction work was carried out by Jefferson's artisan slaves. By 1772, when Jefferson took his bride there to live, part of the house was ready for occupancy; for many years afterward, he added to the building. The house is one of the earliest examples of the American classic revival. Not long after Jefferson's death, his daughter, unable to maintain the property, sold it, retaining only the family burial plot in which Jefferson is interred. Monticello was later bought by Uriah P. Levy, a naval officer, who bequeathed it to "the people of the United States"; but his heirs successfully contested the will. By 1879, Jefferson M. Levy was in full ownership, but he sold Monticello in 1923 to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Dedicated as a national shrine in 1926, and extensively renovated during the next 30 years, the estate was opened to the public in 1954.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.