James Monroe’s Highland
James Monroe's Highland, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the fifth President of the United States' home from 1799 until his death in 1831. The house, which sits atop a hill overlooking the city, was designed by Monroe himself and is a prime example of Federal architecture. In 1940, the house was donated to the College of William & Mary and is now open to the public for tours.
A Brief History of James Monroe's Highland
As one of the Founding Fathers, James Monroe had a hand in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He also served as governor of Virginia, ambassador to France and Britain, and Secretary of State under President James Madison. When Madison was elected as the fourth President of the United States in 1808, Monroe ran for and won the governorship of Virginia. He held this position until 1811 when he was once again appointed ambassador to France.
Monroe returned to America in 1817 and took up residence in Albemarle County, Virginia (now Charlottesville). The following year, he began construction on what would become known as Highland. He lived there with his wife Elizabeth and their three children until 1823 when he was elected as the fifth President of the United States. After serving two terms, Monroe retired to his Virginia estate where he lived until his death in 1831.
The Architecture of James Monroe's Highland
As mentioned before, James Monroe designed his own home which sits atop a hill that offers stunning views of Charlottesville and beyond. The house is built in the Federal style which was popular in America during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
One notable feature of Federal architecture is its symmetry; this can be seen at Highland where there are an equal number of windows on each side of the front door as well as a central hallway that runs from front to back. Other common features include decoration that is restricted to the entablature (the area between the roofline and cornice) and pediments (triangular shapes) above windows and doors.
If you're interested in seeing James Monroe's Highland for yourself, tours are available Wednesday through Sunday from April through October. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
James Monroe's Highland is a beautiful example of Federal architecture that offers visitors a glimpse into the life of one of America's Founding Fathers. If you're ever in Charlottesville, Virginia, be sure to take advantage!
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