Monticello

In Virginia, the retirement estate of Thomas Jefferson offers complex history and stunning architecture.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, image

The image of Monticello adorns the back of nearly every nickel minted since 1938.

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Monticello, known primarily as the retirement estate of Thomas Jefferson, might be the most widely depicted residence in U.S. history; it adorns the back of nearly every nickel minted since 1938, as well as two-dollar bills dating between 1928 and 1966. Jefferson designed the neoclassic building, which has become as much of an anomaly as the third U.S. president himself. The man was an outspoken opponent of slavery, yet owned slaves. His home, a World Heritage site considered to be a treasure of Virginia, was built partly by slave labor, and living quarters for slaves once dotted the estate. It’s history that makes Monticello as complex as it is beautiful—at once wonderful and sorrowful and fascinating.

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Photography courtesy Cephas Picture Library/Alamy

This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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