James Monroe's Highland is off I-64 exit 121, .5 mi. s. on SR 20, 3 mi. e. on SR 53, then .5 mi. s. on CR 795. The 535-acre estate once was owned by James Monroe, fifth president of the United States. Thomas Jefferson encouraged Monroe to purchase the land adjoining Monticello to form “a society to our taste” in Albemarle County. Monroe and his family owned the plantation from 1793 until 1826. Today, the estate is owned and operated by William & Mary, Monroe’s alma mater.
New discoveries have rewritten the history of the property. Archaeological excavations, tree ring dating and architectural research have determined that the structure once thought to be a wing of Monroe's original house was actually his presidential guest house, built 1818. The same research has identified the remains of Monroe's primary residence; the foundation was recently uncovered during excavations just east of the 1870s Massey house.
Guests can learn about Monroe's contributions to American democracy through exploration of historic buildings including the guest house, kitchens and outbuildings. Guided tours of the main house, which contains many Monroe possessions, are available daily. Periodic cooking and spinning demonstrations and other activities are offered. The kitchens, overseer’s house, slave quarters and farm animals also can be seen. The grounds feature flowering plants, Monroe-era trees and kitchen and vegetable gardens. The boxwood gardens feature a 300-year-old oak tree and a statue of Monroe by Attilio Piccirilli. Rolling hills and mountains views are visible on the horizon.
Inquire about weather policies. Photography is not permitted in the interior of the home.
Guided tours are available. Picnicking is permitted. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.
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