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Greenhouse - Southeast Piazza

Greenhouse (Southeast Piazza)

Color: white

Purpose of Room: greenhouse for growing plants; location of Thomas Jefferson's workbench, where he is known to have made locks and chains; possibly home to a pet mockingbird

Unusual Architectural Features: part of Jefferson's suite of private rooms that included his book room, writing office (Cabinet), and bedroom; flanked by two "Venetian porches"

Furnishings of Note: work table and tools, as well as flowers, seeds, and flats for sprouting seeds

Primary Source References

1780s. (Isaac Jefferson). "My Old Master was neat a hand as ever you see to make keys and locks and small chains, iron and brass. He kept all kind of blacksmith and carpenter tools in a great case with shelves to it in his library ... been up thar a thousand times; used to car coal up thar. Old Master had a couple of small bellowses up thar."1

1807 November 9. (Ann Cary Randolph to Jefferson). "Ellen & myself have a fine parcel of little Orange trees for the green house against your return."2

1808 January 22. (Ann Cary Randolph to Jefferson). "I have not been to Monticello since we came from there but Jefferson was there the other day & says that the green house is not done ...."3

1808 December 8. (Jefferson to Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead). "... in fact the Mimosa Nilotica & Orange are the only things I have ever proposed to have in my Green house."4

1816 November 10. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "Tell Wormley also to send ... about a bushel of Orchard grass seed out of the large box in the Green house."5

After 1826. Cornelia Randolph's floor plan of Monticello, drawn after Jefferson's death, includes no. 27, a large "Work Bench," in the South Piazza.6

1829 October 7. (Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Nicholas Philip Trist). "By the way, you never answered my inquiries about ... the box of unpacked books in the greenhouse ...."7

1828 August 10. (Mary Jefferson Randolph to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "Then we have the sitting room adjoining in which two more can be comfortably lodged, and the green house a very convenient little appendage to our bed chambers."8

Further Sources

Related Links:
The Flower Gardens at Monticello Today
"Delicious Flowering Shrubs" and Cape Bulbs in the Monticello Greenhouse
Gardens and Grounds Tours
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lchic's picture
I have always wanted to have 2 things in my house, a pool and a greenhouse. A greenhouse would be beneficial because I could easily grow my own herbs and fruit in there. Plus, I love nature. A pool would also be a great investment because I could practice swimming. I have been able to talk to swimming pool designers about how I could maybe have a greenhouse with a pool in it. Wouldn't that be awesome?
bsawyer's picture
This charming room is guaranteed to be beautiful and fragrant year-round.
Beth Sawyer
echew's picture
I completely agree with Anna. The Greenhouse and the Tea Room at the opposite end of the house are my favorite places inside Monticello. I think Jefferson was a genius (and I use that word REALLY sparingly) in the way he conceived the perimeter of the house as an extension of the living space. The Greenhouse and the adjoining louvered Venetian porticles and South Terrace accessible by the triple sash window are perhaps the best examples. Sitting inside the Greenhouse on the Windsor chairs that are there today for visitors, it is not hard to see what a pleasant place to live Monticello must have been.
Elizabeth Chew
aberkes's picture
Every time I come through Monticello on a tour, I sidle over to the doorway of the piazza, stick my head in, and imagine relaxing in there with a nice fruity drink. Ahhh! One of the most beautiful spaces at Monticello, for sure.
Anna Berkes


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