By Fraser Neiman, Director of Archaeology
Thomas Jefferson’s passion for French cuisine has earned him the title “founding foodie.” Archaeological excavations in the basement of the South Pavilion at Monticello are advancing our understanding of the actual historical dynamics that underlie the title. The South Pavilion is the oldest building on the Mountain-top, completed in 1770. Its basement housed Monticello’s kitchen until 1809, when three feet of ﬁll was dumped into it, raising the ﬂoor to match the level of the newly completed South Wing, which included a new kitchen. Monticello archaeologists have excavated three trenches into the 1809 ﬁll, revealing for the ﬁrst time how Jefferson’s ﬁrst kitchen was laid out and altered over four decades.