You are here



Monticello's Cisterns

I would like to know how much the cisterns at Monticello hold.

My dear Sir,

Thank you for your interest in my water collection system at
Monticello. Each of my four cisterns holds 3,830 gallons of water.

I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt,

Monticello's Dome

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

I am designing a school poster for a report on the architecture of
Monticello and need several different facts about the dome room. Could
you please send me some neat facts like is the dome room modeled after
another dome, or is there something unique about it? Anything you think
might be of interest would be helpful.


Dear Mistress Sarah,

Thank you for your recent letter. The dome at Monticello is modeled
after the Temple of Vesta in Rome. The major difference between the two
is that the Temple of Vesta is round and Monticello's dome is an
elongated octagon. The dome is unique in several ways. The round windows
at the back of the dome room are raised higher than those at the sides
and front of the dome. They are also half clear glass and half mirrored.
The lower half needed to be mirrored due to the location of the windows
cutting into the slope of the main house roof. This is also the reason
that the windows are raised higher than the other windows. The walls of
the dome room are a lovely shade of bright yellow and the floor is grass

I hope you find this information helpful for your report.

I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt,


Dear Mr. Jefferson,

How many fireplaces do you have in monticello? Were fireplaces
the only way that monticello was heated?



Dear Master John,

Thank you for your recent letter. I am pleased that you
have taken an interest in my fireplaces at Monticello. The
first floor of Monticello has eight fireplaces and two openings
for stoves (one is urn shaped and burns charcoal, the other
burns wood). The second floor of Monticello has five wood
burning stoves and I have plans to add a Swedish stove to the
third floor dome room. These numbers do not include the
fireplaces that were located in my dependencies.

How is your home heated?
I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt,

Why Did Jefferson Build Monticello in the Classical Style?

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

Why do you prefer Classical architecture over Georgian - style
architecture? Please let me know.

Thank You... Jenifer

Dear Mistress Jennifer,

You ask about my preference for neoclassical architecture
over that of Georgian England. English architecture is in the
most wretched style I ever saw, not meaning to except America,
where it is bad, nor even Virginia, where it is worse than in
any other part of America, which I have seen. The private
buildings in Virginia are very rarely constructed of stone or
brick, much the greater portion being of scantling and boards,
plastered with lime. It is impossible to devise things more
ugly, uncomfortable and happily more perishable.

In designing the capitol in Richmond I took for my model
what is called the maison quarree of Nismes, France, one of
the most beautiful and precious morsel of architecture left
us by antiquity. It is very simple, but it is noble beyond
expression, and would have done honor to our country, as
presenting to travellers a specimen of taste in our infancy,
promising much for our maturer age. You see I am an enthusiast
in the subject of the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of which
I am not ashamed, as its object is to improve the taste of my
countrymen, to increase their reputation, to reconcile to them
the respect of the world, and procure them its praise. It is
for this reason that I prefer neoclassical buildings to those
of England, especially when constructing public structures.
Do you not agree?

I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt,

The Great Clock in Monticello's Entrance

My dear Mr. President,

I have oft heard tales of a hole cut through your wood floor.
This, I believe if tales are listened right, was to allow a
clock's pendulum to fall unimpeded...floor through floor. This
would increase the running time before necessity demanded 'winding'.

I trust this finds you well and safe,


Dear Master Max,

Thank you for your recent letter. The tales you have heard
about holes in the floor of my entrance hall are correct. The
great clock in the hall was made for my house in Philadelphia
and when I moved it to Monticello, it's weights needed more
room in order to continue unimpeded for seven days. I therefore
did the logical thing and cut two holes in the floor (one for
the hour weights and one for the chime weights). The clock pendulum
is relatively short and does not even touch the top of the door
that it is above.


Monticello's Ice House

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

I have toured Monticello and I was wondering, did you
store anything other than ice at the icehouse? How did you
feel after you wrote the Declaration of Independence, sad
because you thought you might be hanged,or happy because
you had gone against Britain?

Thank you for your time,


Dear Master Michael,

Thank you for your recent letter. Please excuse me for
not responding to it sooner, but I was away from Monticello
and just recently returned.

You ask about my icehouses. I have one at Monticello
and one near the Rivanna River where I store river ice.
The Monticello ice house is most often filled with packed
snow. In this ice house I usually store butter and other
dairy products, fresh meat, and salad greens. I also use
the ice for frozen creams.

I was quite pleased to be asked to write the Declaration
of Independence. After it was completed I had mixed emotions
due to the alterations that were made to my original draft
by the congress. In general I was pleased because the document
says what is in the minds of my fellow countrymen - to be
free of King George and to have the rights that are naturally
given to us by the laws of nature.

I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt,



Login or register to participate in our online community.