Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

 United States of America
N38 1 58 W78 30 14
Date of Inscription: 1987
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2015
Criteria: (i)(iv)(vi)
Property : 795.96 ha
Ref: 442bis
News Links/Travelogues: United States Of America;

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, was also a talented architect of neoclassical buildings. He designed Monticello (1769–1809), his plantation home, and his ideal ‘academical village’ (1817–26), which is still the heart of the University of Virginia. Jefferson’s use of an architectural vocabulary based upon classical antiquity symbolizes both the aspirations of the new American republic as the inheritor of European tradition and the cultural experimentation that could be expected as the country matured.

Brief synthesis

Monticello was the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), author of the American Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States. He designed both the plantation home (1769–1809) and his ideal Academical Village (1817–28) situated eight km away in Charlottesville, in central Virginia. The Academical Village still forms the heart of the University of Virginia, and exhibits a unique U-shaped plan dominated by the Rotunda with pavilions, hotels, student rooms, and gardens arrayed in rows to its south. The buildings are excellent and highly personalized examples of Neoclassicism, shown in their relationship to the natural setting and their blending of functionalism and symbolism. They were inspired by deep study of classical and contemporary examples and reflect Jefferson’s aspirations for the character of the new American republic. Both works have drawn international attention from the time of their construction.

Jefferson’s Monticello and his Academical Village precinct are notable for the originality of their plans and designs and for the refinement of their proportions and décor. His house at Monticello, with its dome, porticos supported by Doric columns, and cornices and friezes derived from classical Roman buildings, and his Academical Village, with its Rotunda modeled on the Pantheon and its ten pavilions each offering a different lesson in the classical orders and architecture as drawn from published classical models, together invoke the ideals of ancient Rome regarding freedom, nobility, self-determination, and prosperity linked to education and agricultural values.

Criterion (i): Both Monticello and the University of Virginia reflect Jefferson’s wide reading of classical and later works on architecture and design and also his careful study of the architecture of late 18th-century Europe. As such they illustrate his wide diversity of interests.

Criterion (iv): With these buildings Thomas Jefferson made a significant contribution to Neoclassicism, the 18th-century movement that adapted the forms and details of classical architecture to contemporary buildings.

Criterion (vi): Monticello and the key buildings of the University of Virginia are directly and materially associated with the ideas and ideals of Thomas Jefferson. Both the University buildings and Monticello were directly inspired by principles derived from his deep knowledge of classical architecture and philosophy. 

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