This is a chance for guests to visit the homes of some of the most important men in the history of our country to see how they lived, where they slept and to walk in their very footsteps. This is the perfect tour for groups, families, couples, children and anyone who is interested in learning more about our history. It’s a rare glimpse into the world of the greatest minds of our time. The tour starts with James Madison’s Montpelier. James Madison was the fourth President of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers of our country. Considered to be the “Father of the Constitution”, he was the principal author of the document. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. The first President to have served in the United States Congress, he was a leader in the 1st United States Congress, drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution and thus is also known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.”
Next will be Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” Jefferson has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.
After a tour of Jefferson’s Monticello, guests will enjoy lunch at the famous Michie Tavern.
Following lunch, guests will be on their way to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, saving the Union and ending slavery, only to be assassinated as the war was virtually over. Before becoming the first Republican elected to the Presidency, Lincoln was a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, a member of the United States House of Representatives and twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Senate. He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of slavery, issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoting passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which passed Congress before Lincoln’s death and was ratified by the states later in 1865. If guests would like to have a Premium Tour of the cottage, the schedule will be arranged differently as this tour is only available at 9am, Monday through Friday.
Time permitting, the last stop on the Presidential Program “Walking in Their Footsteps” will be the National Archives so guests can view the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence plus additional documents that formed and shaped our country.
Following is a description of each site as well as hotel accommodations at the luxurious Boars Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Montpelier, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ride Mountains, was the lifelong home of James Madison. Madison was raised at Montpelier, lived here after his marriage to Dolley, returned here after his presidency, and died here in his study surrounded by the books and papers that marked so much of his life’s work. It was at Montpelier where Madison researched past democracies and conceived of the system of government that became our republic.
The Montpelier estate features the Madison mansion, historic buildings, exhibits, archaeological sites, gardens, forests, hands-on activities, a new Visitor Center, and a freedman’s cabin and farm. Here, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can spend an hour or two – or a day or two –s trolling the grounds and learning more about the man whose contemporaries called him the “Father of the Constitution,” and the woman who was the first to be called First Lady.
Since 2004, the Montpelier mansion has been undergoing a massive restoration to return it to the home that James and Dolley knew and loved. Visit now for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this real-life historical detective story.
Make your first stop the Visitor center to get a map, see an interactive model of the estate, and plan your visit. Begin your tour with a short presentation in the Alan and Louise Potter Theater to learn all about the restoration and architectural detective story that led to this remarkable transformation.
While at the Visitors center, stop by the Joe and Marge Grills Gallery to see the Treasures of Montpelier – Madison’s spyglass, a brace of pistols, snuff box, and a reproduction of Dolley’s red dress.
At the south end of the Visitor Center, you can stroll through the duPont Gallery to see what life was like at Montpelier during the early 20th century for another grand American family.
Just north of the mansion, you can stand in the Temple where James Madison contemplated democracy, and take in the view of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Conscious of both landscape geometry and beauty, the ever-practical Madison situated his Temple over the plantation ice house and within eyesight of the second-story deck of the mansion’s north wing. In this way, revelers could view the mountains and the Temple, while making good use of the ice stored beneath it.
Visit the Madison Exhibits in the Education Center highlighting Madison’s role in writing the Constitution, and in America’s founding. Here see a re-creation of James and Dolley’s dining table set for a company dinner, and view Madison family furniture and decorative arts. Learn about how Montpelier curators investigate each piece to discover its Madison provenance or authenticity.
Nestled between the mansion and the Formal Garden in Dolley’s backyard, near where she hold summer barbeques, is the Hands-on Restoration Tent. Here you can try your hand at the building crafts of Madison’s time. Make a brick, saw a log, and nail a plank the way Madison’s craftsmen did.
Just behind the Mount Pleasant site lies the Madison Family Cemetery – the final resting place of James and Dolley Madison.
A few hundred years north of the Madison Family Cemetery is the Slave Cemetery, containing the graves of 38 members of Montpelier’s enslaved community. Archaeologists suspect that the graveyard may have extended beyond this known position.
Montpelier offers 2,650 acres of rolling hills, spacious horse pastures, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plan to spend some time enjoying the gardens and grounds.
Wander the two-acre Annie duPont Formal Garden featuring formal walkways, sweeping beds, an herb garden, and magnificent marble lions and urns. Established in Madison’s time, the Garden was renovated by Annie duPont in the early 1900s.
Beyond the back lawn where Dolley entertained stands the 200-acre James Madison Landmark Forest. A series of trails offer a variety of 10-to 45-minutes walks through this old-growth virgin forest.
Montpelier’s south lawn in home to three “champion” trees- an English Oak, a Holly Leaf, and a Spanish Fir – the grandest specimens in Virginia.
Just west of the Visitor center and east of the Madison Family Cemetery lies the site of the original family homestead, Mount Pleasant. Built by James Madison’s grandfather, Ambrose, the first Madison home site is 500 yards from the current home.
Monticello is the home of Thomas Jefferson, third U.S. President, author and founder of the University of Virginia.
A typical day for Jefferson started early, because, in his own words, “Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.” He told of a fifty-year period in which the sun has never caught him in bed; he rose as soon as he could read the hands of the clock kept directly opposite his bed. Monticello is filled with Jefferson’s innovations, many of which he designed or adapted “with greater eye to convenience.” As in the rest of the house, the bedroom’s furnishings illustrate many of Jefferson’s ideas about the efficient use of time, space, and light, including prominently placed clocks, space-saving alcove beds, and light maximizing mirrors.
Jefferson researched and wrote many letters in what has been called the earliest modern office. Jefferson’s Cabinet was, in contemporary language, “user-friendly,” with a revolving bookstand, table and chair. Here Jefferson used a copy machine to make duplicate sets of his letters, which he kept in filing presses, tying them into bundles organized alphabetically and chronologically. This arrangement allowed Jefferson to pinpoint the location of any given letter, and even send for a particular one when he was away from Monticello.
Monticello is a majestic reminder of Jefferson’s creativity and talent. Tours range from the intimacy of his private suite of rooms to the sensations of his gardens, orchards and vineyards, and to the stories of slaves who worked on the plantation.
Much of Monticello’s interior decoration reflect the ideas and ideals of Jefferson himself.
The original main entrance is through the portico on the east front. The ceiling of this portico incorporates a wind plate connected to a weather vane, showing the direction of the wind. A large clock on the external east-facing wall has only an hour hand since Jefferson thought this was accurate enough for outdoor laborers. The clock reflects the time shown on the “Great Clock” (designed by Jefferson) in the entrance hall. The entrance hall contains recreations of items collected by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. The floorcloth is painted a “true grass green” upon the recommendation of artist Gilbert Stuart in order for Jefferson’s ‘essay in architecture’ to invite the spirit of the outdoors into the house.
The south wing includes Jefferson’s private suite of rooms. The library holds many books in Jefferson’s third library collection. His first library was burned in a plantation fire, and he ‘ceded’ (or sold) his second library in 1815 to the United States Congress to replace the books lost when the British burned the Capitol in 1814. This second library formed the nucleus of the Library of Congress. As famous and “larger than life” as Monticello seems, the house itself is actually no longer than a typical large home. Jefferson considered much furniture to be a waste of space, so the dining room table was erected only at mealtimes, and beds were built into alcoves cut into thick walls that contain storage space. Jefferson’s bed opens to two sides: to his cabinet (study) and to his bedroom (dressing room.)
The main house as augmented by small outlying pavilions to the north and south. A row of functional buildings (dairy, wash houses, store houses, a small nail factory, a joinery, etc.) and slave dwellings known as Mulberry Row lay nearby to the south. A stone weaver’s cottage survives, as does the tall chimney of the joinery, and the foundations of other buildings. A cabin on Mulberry Row was, for a time, the home of Sally Hemings; she later moved into a room in the “south dependency” below the main house. On the slope below Mulberry Row Jefferson maintained an extensive vegetable garden.
The house was the center of a plantation of 5,000 acres tended by some 150 slaves.
LUNCH AT MICHIE TAVERN
Time: Hours are 11:15am to 3:30pm
Historic Michie Tavern, established in 1784 by Scotsman William Michie, served as the social center of its community and accommodated travelers with food, drink and lodging. In 1927, the Tavern was moved 17 miles to its present location close to Monticello, serving as a prime example of the Colonial Revival period. Today, visitors experience the Tavern’s past through a historical journey which recreates 18th-century life.
The Tavern’s dining room, the Ordinary, features hearty Midday Fare offered by servers in period attire. The rustic tavern setting renders a dining experience rich in southern culture and hospitality for families to enjoy. Virginia wines and traditional lagers are available to complement your meal. Lunch will be served in a buffet fashion. Guests are welcome to have seconds.
Additional sites to see at Michie Tavern:
The General Store: Housed within the Meadow Run Grist Mill, offers shopping opportunities in an old mercantile atmosphere. Two floors feature a variety of gifts from Virginia’s Finest foods, wines and old-fashioned candies from toys, jewelry, collectibles and a vintage Christmas shop. The new Reading Room offers period newspapers, history-related books, artwork, and chess sets.
The Tavern Gift Shop: Adjacent to the dining room, features a wide selection of historical reproductions and an attractive line of gifts which reflect the original Tavern.
The Clothier: Located along a wooded path between the Tavern and General Store, is the first in a series of Marketplace Shops and features period apparel, quilts and accessories.
A PREMIUM TOUR OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S COTTAGE
After a $15 million restoration by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit organization, President Lincoln’s Cottage is open to the public for the first time, giving Americans an intimate, never-before0seen view of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and family life.
Designated a National Monument by President Clinton in 2000, President Lincoln’s Cottage served as Lincoln’s family residence for a quarter of his presidency and is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln’s presidency aside from the White House. President Lincoln’s Cottage is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in northwest Washington D.C. and has been restored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit organization.
In addition to President Lincoln’s Cottage, the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center adjacent to the Cottage, features related exhibits and media presentations. The restoration of President Lincoln’s Cottage and the establishment of the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center took seven years and cost over $15 million.
The historic significance of the Soldier’s Home was officially recognized in 1974, when four buildings built before the Civil War, along with six surrounding acres of land, were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.
On July 7, 2000, President William J. Clinton declared the Lincoln Cottage and 2.3 acres of surrounding land the President Lincoln and Soldier’s Home National Monument in honor of the site’s notable role in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The President Lincoln and Soldier’s Home National Monument is officially known as “President Lincoln’s Cottage” today, but maintains its National Monument status.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln and his family resided seasonally (June-November 1862-64) at the Soldier’s Home in Washington DC. Founded in 1851 as a home for the retired and disabled veterans of American wars, the Soldier’s Home stood on 250 acres atop the third largest area in the District of Columbia. Like President Buchanan before him, Lincoln enjoyed the cool breezes and refreshing peace of the Soldier’s Home just over three miles north of downtown. But unlike his predecessor, Lincoln could not escape the Civil War and his burden of leadership even at this seasonal retreat.
The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center is housed in a 1905 Beaux Arts style building adjacent to President Lincoln’s Cottage. The rehabilitated Visitor Education Center is the first National Trust Historic site structure to qualify for LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification from the US Green Building Council. This “green” renovation was supported by a $1 million grant from United Technologies Corporation.
All tours of the Cottage begin in the Visitor Education Center.
Before touring President Lincoln’s Cottage, visitors will gather in this intimate space with their guide for an introduction to the site and to the tour experience. An interactive audio visual presentation with the tour leader will set the content for the Lincolns’ move to the Soldiers’ Home and the world in which they lived. From this room visitors will proceed directly to the Cottage.
Guests also have the option of being treated to a Premium tour at President Lincoln’s cottage. A Premium Tour includes Welcome and Orientation by the Director, A Private 1 Hour Tour of the cottage and a post tour session with the Curator.
Premium Tours are available at 9am Monday through Friday. The schedule of the sites can be arranged for guests to tour Lincoln’s cottage first.
A TOUR OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
The Rotunda of the National Archives Building in downtown Washington DC, contains the permanent exhibit if the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. A new exhibit called the Public Vaults displays over 1,000 fascinating records (originals or reproductions) from the National Archives holdings.
Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are in permanent display in the Rotunda. ‘A New World Is at Hand” surrounds the Rotunda’s centerpiece cases. Presenting a selection of milestone documents, the exhibit chronicles the creation of the Charters of Freedom in the 18th century and their impact on the course of history in the United States and around the world.
The Public Vaults: This interactive exhibit invites visitors into the stacks and vaults of the National Archives to explore the raw material from which history is made. From Washington’s letters, Lincoln’s telegrams, and FDR’s fireside chats to UFO reports and declassified secrets of World War II, these documents chronicle both great national events and the lives of individual Americans.
Magna Carta: This foundation document of English common law was confirmed by Edward I in 1297. Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta remain, and only one permanently resides in the United States. Purchased by the Perot Foundation in 1984, it is on loan to the National Archives.
THE BOARS HEAD INN
Coffee or tea in the Ordinary. Lunch on the patio at Bistro 1834. Dinner in the famed Old Mill Room. A wonderfully historic Blue Ridge Mountain hotel – The Boars Head Inn. From where do these distinguished names originate? If the walls could talk….
The Ordinary: In the 1730s, the inn property was the site of Terrell’s ordinary, a modest inn where westward travelers stayed the night. By the 1960s, the Ordinary was but a memory. In its place was the quintessential Virginia Inn.
The Old Mill: The heart of Boar’s Head Inn was built from the timbers of an abandoned gristmill along the banks of the Hardware River, which dated back to 1834. The relocation of the mill was an opportunity to preserve and transform a treasured Virginia artifact. It had survived burning despite the orders of Generals Grant and Custer during their march through Charlottesville in the Civil War. Indeed, it had continued to operate some 60 years after the war’s end.
Piece by Piece, The Construction: The old mill was carefully dismantled and reconstructed piece by piece at the present site of the Inn. The original fieldstones, heart pine beams and planks, and massive grist stones are now prominently featured throughout the Inn. Today, the heart of the Boar’s Head Inn is the Old Mill Room, whose time-worm timbers recall the original mill. Outside, millstones are visible reminders of the building’s proud past.
The University of Virginia Foundation, The Restoration: Boar’s Head Inn was purchased in 1988 by the University of Virginia Foundation. Since that time, the University of Virginia Foundation has invested almost $20 million to renovate and continually upgrade the Inn. For twenty years, Boar’s Head Inn has received the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award.
The Boar’s Head Tradition: Since Shakespeare’s day, London’s Boar’s Head Inn was synonymous with good food and warm hospitality, a tradition maintained today in the foothills of this Blue Ridge Mountain hotel, the Boar’s Head Inn in historic Charlottesville, Virginia.