Explore the history of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation through photographs, podcasts, a timeline, and an online exhibit from our archives.
Monticello is owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which was founded in 1923. As a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, the Foundation receives no ongoing federal, state, or local funding in support of its dual mission of preservation and education.
During its existence, the Foundation has steadily expanded Monticello’s functions and holdings. Its stewardship now includes approximately 2,500 of Jefferson’s 5,000 acres, of which more than 1,400 are held under protective easements. The 2004 purchase of Montalto, the neighboring mountain that rises 400 feet above Monticello, represents the Foundation’s most significant land acquisition. In addition to the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Carl and Hunter Smith Education Center, large capital projects have included the Jefferson Library and the Saunders-Monticello Trail, both of which were dedicated in 2002.
The Foundation’s major restoration projects in recent years have included restoring and replacing Jefferson’s roof system on the house; installing a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; placing new, historically accurate roofing on the South Pavilion; installing Jefferson-era louvered Venetian enclosures on the South Piazza; restoring the North Cellar Passage; and renovating and refurnishing the Cook’s Room, Beer Cellar, Kitchen, and Wine Cellar. Recently, the Foundation completed the Mountaintop Project, a multi-year effort to restore Monticello as Jefferson knew it, and to tell the stories of the people—enslaved and free—who lived and worked on the 5,000-acre plantation.
Monticello’s multidisciplinary educational initiatives are conducted through the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. Founded in 1994 to foster Jefferson scholarship and widely disseminate findings, the Smith ICJS embraces Monticello’s archaeology, education, publications, and research departments; the 15,500-squarefoot Jefferson Library; and the editorial operations of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, a published compilation of Jefferson’s written legacy from 1809 to his death in 1826. The Center conducts international scholarly conferences, lectures, informal talks, panel discussions, teacher workshops, curriculum-based tours, and other programs for students and educators, and offers long- and short-term residential fellowships for researchers and scholars. The Smith ICJS is based at the nearby Kenwood property.
Monticello’s Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, established in 1987, collects, preserves, and distributes historic plant varieties and strives to promote greater appreciation for the origins and evolution of garden plants. The program centers on Jefferson’s horticultural interests and the plants he grew at Monticello, but also covers the broad history of plants cultivated in America by including varieties documented through the 19th century and choice North American plants. The CHP is located at nearby Tufton Farm.
The Saunders-Monticello Trail, a linear park along Route 53, serves as a scenic entrance corridor to Monticello and as a recreational and education resource for visitors and local residents. The parkway features Kemper Park, an 89-acre expanse with an arboretum, pond, woodland theater, and overlook; Saunders-Monticello Trail, a 2.2-mile pathway linking Kemper Park and the grounds of Monticello; and Saunders Bridge, a stone-arch span at the entrance to Monticello. The Trail is open to the public free of charge every day.
Monticello’s website — www.monticello.org — provides convenient access to a wealth of information about Monticello, Jefferson, his family, and his times; visitor information; event and program listings; ticket reservations; online shopping; and links to hundreds of resources. The site, launched in 1996, attracts more than a million unique visitors each year. Among its most popular sections are virtual tours , offering an array of innovative ways to experience Jefferson’s house and plantation; the Monticello Classroom, a source of reports, activities, and other materials for students and teachers in grades 3 through 8; and the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, a compendium of more than 1,000 articles on all things Jefferson.