A New Look at Jefferson’s Mountaintop

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 9:06 AM


Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Leslie Greene Bowman, President & CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. The Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Street View images of Monticello’s grounds and some building interiors are now available on Google Maps.
when I contemplate the immense advances in science and discoveries in the arts which have been made within the period of my life, I look forward with confidence to equal advances by the present generation, and have no doubt they will consequently be as much wiser than we have been as we than our fathers were, and they than the burners of witches.” –Thomas Jefferson, 1818
Thomas Jefferson would have loved knowing that in 200 years, his architectural masterpiece would be explored by a cutting-edge technology and seen by people all over the world on Google Maps. His legacy as a founding father is well-celebrated in the course of American history, of course – but Jefferson was also an innovator, always trying new things and exploring new possibilities to make a better world.
The spirit of Jefferson’s innovation and insatiable curiosity to learn more about the world still resonates with us today as we continue to push boundaries and implement new technologies. It’s no question that Jefferson, one of the country’s foremost visionaries in science and technology who was also fascinated by cartography and owned hundreds of maps, would surely have spent weeks on end exploring every corner of our planet through Google Maps. That Google Maps is the most accurate map of the planet and is available to the entire world, for free, would surely make him smile. We’re all inspired by seeing new parts of the world and trying new things – two things that Jefferson was very passionate about. Google Maps’ Street View brings out the explorer in all of us.
Naturally, we’re thrilled to have both the exteriors and interiors of Monticello now available through the Street View of Google Maps, which makes it possible for people around the world to explore the house where Jefferson lived and experimented.
A few highlights to point out while you tour the grounds and house include:
Monticello’s Hall, which doubled as a waiting room for Jefferson’s guests and a museum of American natural history, western civilization and American Indian cultures. The room’s most interesting features include numerous maps, paintings, and natural history specimens, the double-acting glass doors to the Parlor that open together when either side is moved, and the Great Clock, which was designed by Jefferson.



Monticello’s Hall


The Dining Room, where Jefferson entertained many guests. Notice something different? In 2010, Monticello removed the famous, but incorrect Wedgwood blue wall color and reinstated a vibrant Chrome Yellow after restoration experts found evidence of the original shade through paint analysis. This bright room features one of Monticello’s thirteen skylights and double-pocket doors on rollers that separate the Dining Room from the Tea Room.


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Monticello’s Dining Room
The Cabinet, Jefferson’s study, served as his personal “laboratory” where he thought about ways to improve everyday life.  With his scientific apparatus, he observed the world around him. Look for his scientific instruments, the revolving chair, a table with a revolving top, a revolving bookstand and his polygraph, a machine for copying letters.


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Monticello’s Cabinet, Jefferson’s Study
As Americans from coast to coast take pause to celebrate our nation’s liberties and heritage this Independence Day, we’ll also remember those from whom we’ve inherited this great nation. Jefferson would have loved to see how his innovative spirit is being showcased to viewers around the world – in places he didn’t even know existed – today.
For those who cannot make it to the mountaintop in person, and for those who want to relive their memories of time spent here, we welcome you inside Jefferson’s home – please explore. Visitor information for Monticello can be found here.
Also, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819, which he considered to be one of his greatest life achievements. So today, Google is also publishing updated Street View panoramas of the walking paths and roads around Mr. Jefferson’s beloved University. Highlights include the famous Rotunda, and other sites around central Grounds, as well as the surrounding Charlottesville area.
Posted by Leslie Greene Bowman, President & CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation