You are here

James Dinsmore

ca. 1771–1830
Hired White Workers

Massachusetts Historical Society


James Dinsmore was a joiner and manager at Monticello from 1798 to 1809.  This “very fine housejoiner” created much of the intricate turned and joined woodwork  for the interior of Monticello II—sashes, cornices, arches, balustrades, and shutters.  Dinsmore, who could “make anything,” also worked on the privies, ice house, and coach house in the dependencies.  A bachelor and native of Ulster, Ireland, Dinsmore probably lived with other hired artisans in the workmen’s house  and worked in the joiner’s shop, both on Mulberry Row.  He also trained two enslaved men, John Hemmings and Lewis, in the art of fine carpentry.  Calling Dinsmore “one of the more faithful, sober, discreet, honest and respectable men I have ever known,” President Jefferson entrusted him with overseeing the construction of Monticello II, keeping keys to many secured areas of the house, handling nail-making accounts, and conveying detailed progress reports to him in Washington, D.C.

Learn more at»

 Learn more about this multi-family slave dwelling built ca. 1770.


Login or register to participate in our online community.