Tag Archives: Homes and haunts

George Washington’s Mount Vernon : At Home in Revolutionary America

George Washington's Mount Vernon brings together–for the first time–the details of Washington's 45-year endeavor to build and perfect Mount Vernon. In doing so it introduces us to a Washington few of his contemporaries knew, and one little noticed by historians since.
Here we meet the planter/patriot who also genuinely loved building, a man passionately human in his desire to impress on his physical surroundings the stamp of his character and personal beliefs. As chief architect and planner of the countless changes made at Mount Vernon over the years, Washington began by imitating accepted models of fashionable taste, but as time passed he increasingly followed his own ideas. Hence, architecturally, as the authors show, Mount Vernon blends the orthodox and the innovative in surprising ways, just as the new American nation would. Equally interesting is the light the book sheds on the process of building at Mount Vernon, and on the people–slave and free–who did the work. Washington was a demanding master, and in their determination to preserve their own independence his workers often clashed with him. Yet, as the Dalzells argue, that experience played a vital role in shaping his hopes for the future of American society–hope that embraced in full measure the promise of the revolution in which he had led his fellow citizens.
George Washington's Mount Vernon thus compellingly combines the two sides of Washington's life–the public and the private–and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both. Gracefully written, with more than 80 photographs, maps, and engravings, the book tells a fascinating story with memorable insight.

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: A Photographic Portrait

Specially created in collaboration with Ken Burns for his documentary film series on Thomas Jefferson, these rich photographs portray Jefferson's Palladian masterpiece, Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia, as Jefferson might have photographed it himself — with his own refined intellectual and aesthetic vision. Jefferson died in 1826, the year photography was invented. In the spirit of this early era, award-winning photographer Robert Lautman has captured the house artistically using a unique mid-nineteenth-century method of creating photographs. After shooting the spaces with a large-format camera, and using only natural light — photographing the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon, utilizing shutters and doors for lighting control — he printed the images with a platinum-palladium process on hand-coated paper. The resulting photographs display a never-before-seen radiant atmosphere of this enchanting place, masterfully reproduced in this charming gift volume.

Begun in 1768 when Jefferson was only twenty-five years old, Monticello continued to be altered with changes and additions until his death. It remains the single home in America on the World Heritage List of international treasures. Jefferson, the only architect ever to serve as president, believed this house was his individual exploration and expression of classical architecture. Seen here are the harmonious proportions of the building, warm interiors, extensive grounds, romantic gardens, and elegant furnishings, along with some of Jefferson's prized personal belongings.

“A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello

Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1,000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving. Extensively and painstakingly restored under Peter J. Hatch's brilliant direction, Jefferson's unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson's genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.

Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, "A Rich Spot of Earth" is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson's retirement years (1809–1826). The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson's favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries.