You are here
As early as 1790, Thomas Jefferson began planning revisions for his Albemarle County home, based in part on what he had observed in France. In 1796, walls of the original home were knocked down to make room for an expansion that would essentially double the floor plan of the house. The new plan called for a hallway connecting the older rooms to a new set of rooms on the east. The second Monticello was largely completed by 1809, the year Jefferson retired from the Presidency.
Among the many French elements that Jefferson incorporated into the second Monticello, the most dramatic was the Dome placed over the already-existing Parlor, making it the first American home with such a feature. He crafted the building to give the appearance — as he had seen at the Hôtel de Salm in Paris — that the three-story building was only one story tall.1 To achieve this effect, windows in the second-story bedrooms are on the floor level, so that from the outside, they appear to be an extension of the first-floor windows. On the third floor, light is provided by skylights invisible from the ground. Alcove beds and indoor privies are two more French features incorporated into Monticello. Although he was referring to food, one can understand why Patrick Henry claimed that Jefferson's time abroad had "Frenchified" him.
Jefferson's revisions for the home called for even smaller stairways than he had used in the original design. Two steep and narrow stairways, measuring only twenty-four inches wide, provided access to the upper bedrooms. These stairways widen to thirty inches as they descend to the basement level, thus affording more space for tasks such as bringing food from the Kitchen to the Dining Room. Jefferson believed that small stairways saved both money and "space which would make a good room in every story."2
- Beiswanger, William L. Monticello in Measured Drawings. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1998.
- Facca, Amy E., comp. Abstracts of Letters and Memoranda Relating to the Design and Construction of Monticello, 1770-1826. Unpublished research report. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1990.
- Humbert, Jean-Marcel. L'Hôtel de Salm: Palais et Musée de la Légion d'Honneur: Salm Mansion, Palace and Museum of the Legion of Honour. Translated by Ray Beaumont-Craggs. Saint-Ouen, France: Editions la Goélette, 1996.
- Monticello: remodelling notes, , by Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003. The twenty pages of Jefferson's 1796 remodelling notebook are available online from the Massachusetts Historical Society.
- McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder. New York: Holt, 1988.
- Palladio, Andrea. The Four Books on Architecture. Translated by Robert Tavernor and Richard V. Schofield. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2002.
- Rice, Howard C., Jr. Thomas Jefferson's Paris. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.
- Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Comparison of Monticello I and Monticello II.
- Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Northeast wall of Parlor during 1953 renovation work.