August 14, 2013
As rainy as it had been the day before, this morning turned out to be spectacular. Our agenda for the day was to drive over to Charlottesville and visit Monticello, then continue on to DC. We picked up Interstate 64 and headed eastward from Staunton.
On a hill next to the interstate, just around the corner from our motel, were three crosses. These were a set of Coffindaffer Crosses, placed by the Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer. My blogger friend Jacob K. recently did a post on the Coffindaffer Crosses on his blog, The Carpetbagger. I had spotted two other sets Monday, but had not stopped to take pictures. The photo below doesn’t show it because it’s backlit, but the crosses have a distinct color scheme – two white with a central gold cross.
The trip from Staunton to Charlottesville went quickly, and we found Monticello easily by following the signs. We managed to get tickets for the next tour, and 10:15 am.
Having never been to Monticello before, I was surprised at the view and how high up on a hill it sits. For some reason I had farm=flat, and I was thinking Monticello was closer to DC, where the geography is flatter. This was a “Chamber of Commerce Day”, as our guide put it, so the views were spectacular.
The house was every bit as fascinating from an architectural and innovation standpoint as I thought it would be. Our tour guide held nothing back on Jefferson. He was a man of conflicting ideals – supporting freedom and the exchange of knowledge, but still a slave owner. Somehow I had not realized that when he died he was deeply in debt, and the estate had to be sold to settle those debts.
Outside we wandered the garden, which had a multitude of flowers in bloom. Since I couldn’t take photos in the house, I think I went overboard on the outside.
One feature of the house that really amazed me was that the utilitarian spaces were kept so strictly separate from the living spaces. The “dependencies” were in the basement and under the left and right wings of the house. These housed storage, kitchens, and other work areas. Most likely this was all run by slave labor, so there was probably an effort to keep them out of sight.
The working garden looked far too small to support such a large household. A vegetable garden was planted, but surely more must have been available on other parts of the farm.
We took the trail down to Jefferson’s tomb, and lingered a bit at the graveyard, which is apparently still in use. We saw several recent headstones in the cemetery.
Instead of taking the shuttle bus back down to the visitors center, we took the half-mile trail back. It was a pleasant shaded walk, and we didn’t mind it on such a beautiful day.
By this time lunch was upon us. Rather than eat at the park’s restaurant, we decided to try to find something in Charlottesville. After a bit of wandering, we wound up downtown. Main Street has been converted to a pedestrian plaza, so we found a place to park and wandered along until we found something quick.
I had noticed that there were several used book stores in the area. After all, this is a university town, where such shops thrive. I decided to check out a couple to see if I could find any antique hymnals. At our first stop, Daedelus Books, I hit paydirt. I was able to find an oblong tune book called “Kingdom of Song”, published in 1879, “Gospel Hymns No. 5”, published by Ira Sankey in 1887, a music primer from the Silver Burdett Company published in 1932. I picked up the latter one because I used Silver Burdett books when I first started teaching music, and this example and excellent old photographs and illustrations.
I tried one other used bookstore, but didn’t find anything like the treasures at Daedelus. We decided that it was time to head on out of Charlottesville.
Not sure of the exact route, we plugged the address for our hotel into the GPS. I would have thought that we would take I-64 westward, but it turns out that would be out of the way. Instead, we took Highway 29 to the northwest. It was hard to believe that this same highway runs just a few blocks from our house as Wade Hampton Boulevard (with, I’m sure, many twists and turns along the way.) There were some staggering estates on the way out of town. These were imposing horse farms, and the manor houses that could be viewed from the road were impressive. We didn’t stop for photos, but admired the view as we drove.
We got into DC just past rush hour, but since we were headed into town instead of out, we were OK. We found our hotel in Arlington with no problem, and settled in for a good night’s rest before starting our city tour the next day.
Here is a slideshow of the rest of our photos of Monticello: