Mulberry Row and the Landscape of Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello is the first part of a multi-year project. The multi-faceted approach is designed to help "real" and "virtual" visitors understand the complex world of Monticello, the 5000-acre plantation occupied by Thomas Jefferson and his family, hired workers, and about 130 enslaved people in any given year. Jefferson's detailed recordkeeping, coupled with extensive archeological and historical study, make Monticello the best documented plantation in America.
Mulberry Row occupied a critically important position between the agricultural quarter farms of the plantation and the main house. A center of domestic and industrial activity, it was located just 75 feet south of Jefferson's own quarters. Most of the buildings were wood and have not survived; the remains of only four stone structures are visible today. The absence of most of the structures makes it difficult for visitors to imagine Mulberry Row and the hum of plantation activity.
Mulberry Row and the Landscape of Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello will change how visitors perceive the crucially important plantation and its people. Seventeen mini-exhibitions or interpretation stations at key sites along Mulberry Row will reach millions of people. The stations will be enhanced by sound (e.g., the sounds of nailmaking near the nailery), audio and visual podcasts, and two nearby interactive computers with an animation conveying the evolution of Mulberry Row's buildings. All of the new Mulberry Row materials will be accessible on our Web site, thus expanding the audience.
Drawing on decades of research, an interdisciplinary team of TJF staff archaeologists, historians, educators, and curators developed the content for the exhibition. Visitors to Monticello will learn more about individual workers, their families and the specific operations of the plantation from nailmaking to spinning, as well as the broader aspects of plantation life and the institution of slavery.
Future components of the phased Mulberry Row project will include the restoration of Jefferson's mountaintop roads—especially the Kitchen Road—and two original structures, the Stable and Weaver's Cottage. We also plan to reconstruct a few of the lost buildings; the reconstruction will be carried out carefully and selectively as is fitting for this sensitive landscape.
A recently awarded National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) grant for $380,000 and a matching gift from trustee Fritz Kundrun and his wife Claudine will help support one of TJF's most important and exciting initiatives.