TJ in Indy? Didn’t happen in history, but what if…?

Posted in: Jefferson Today

While we don’t see as many school groups visiting Monticello during the summer as we do in the spring and fall, we love it when a group makes a special effort to visit us. Today, I had the pleasure of working with a high school group that’s part of the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis. After looking at a map of where Thomas Jefferson had traveled in his lifetime, we could tell he never made it far enough west to reach Indiana. So I issued a challenge to the group. Based on Jefferson’s interests, what sites would he visit in Indianapolis today? While the group first thought about Lucas Oil Stadium – home of the Colts – or Conseco Field House – home of the Pacers, we refined Jefferson’s “must-see” list based on his interests that we discovered during the field trip.

Here’s a top 10 list of things the students and chaperones thought Jefferson would enjoy in modern Indianapolis…

10. Arts Garden – We spent some time exploring Jefferson’s vegetable and flower gardens, and the students thought he’d enjoy the Arts Garden attached to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art 9. The mall – Might sound like an offhand answer at first, but the students suggested this after we talked about Jefferson’s efforts to make and sell nails.

8. Indianapolis Public Library – The students saw time and again how important Jefferson thought reading and writing were to the survival of our republic.

7. State Capitol – Classical influences similar to Monticello.  Dome. Check. Columns. Check. Plus Jefferson was a politician, after all.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art6. Canal Walk – Rather than playing sports, Jefferson enjoyed walking and horseback riding. He could easily feel at home taking a few laps around the canal.

5. The Eiteljorg Museum – The students immediately thought of this museum dedicated to American Indian art after seeing Jefferson’s collection of Indian artifacts in his hall.

4. Butler University – The students would want to show Jefferson one of their local universities to see how it compared with the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s “retirement” project.

3. Indianapolis Museum of Art – Jefferson would have loved seeing the IMA’s extensive collection. Plus I think he’d be a fan of the museum’s innovative use of technology.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Hands-on experimentation to learn about science. Oh, and, a great exhibition about dinosaurs. Jefferson would be so pleased.

And at the top of the list… drum roll….
1. Urban Garden at Shepard Community Center – The students’ own urban garden. They would love the chance to show Jefferson what they’ve created.

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