This animation shows the construction of the two smokehouses and a dairy that Jefferson combined under one roof. Rendering by Earl Mark.
This three-celled “house 43 ½ f. by 16. f. of wood, the floors of earth,” was used as a smokehouse for meat and a dairy between 1790 and 1808. Jefferson combined two of what he considered “indispensable” elements of a Virginia plantation under one roof, “two meat-houses” and a “passage between” for a dairy. Enslaved men and women cut, salted, and cured beef and pork in the smokehouses; the women made cream and butter in the dairy. Jefferson’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, like other plantation mistresses in Virginia, often supervised these activities. In 1809, the smokehouse and dairy functions moved to the South Terrace wing.