Monday, April 1, 2013

Day Three: Charlottesville, Virginia

Our first stop of the day:  the University of Virginia campus.  Most people I know have asked, "Why there?"  I was curious to know, too.  It turns out that this university was founded and designed by Jefferson and was one of the 3 things listed on his tombstone that he wanted to most be remembered for.  His ideals were brought to life through this school.  The first few colleges were established around religion- here, the campus is centered around a rotunda which housed the library (symbolizing education as opposed to religion).  The university has received designation as a World Heritage Site.  In front of the rotunda is the Academical Village, which was where both students and professors lived.  Jefferson believed that a good education involved close interaction between students and professors.  The professors lived in the two story buildings, where their classrooms were the bottom floor.  Nowadays, students who are in their last year have to apply for the privilege of living in the Academical Village.  Wouldn't that be so neat, to live in a place with such history?
 Here's a group pic of our whole teacher group
 The Rotunda
      These units line each side of the Rotunda
 Jefferson's home, Monticello, overlooks the campus from afar

After our tour, we boarded the bus and headed to Michie Tavern, an 18th century tavern where we feasted on a buffet with amazing Southern fried chicken.  We got to take a quick tour and the host even taught our teachers a dance that would've been popular in that time. 

 I was very intrigued by this outhouse- did you know that people used corncobs before toilet paper!?

After boarding our bus, we headed to Monticello.  I was very much looking forward to this visit and was not disappointed.  If there was something I knew about Jefferson, it's that he was a very complex and controversial figure.  Our teacher group participated in a special program where we got a hands-on experience that we could adapt for our classroom.  We got a guided tour of Jefferson's residence and I learned even more about him.  When you see this picture of Monticello, it looks like a single story home... You'd be surprised to know that the house was actually 4 stories!  Jefferson loved architecture and enjoyed experimenting with design.

My very favorite part of this visit was going on the Slavery Walking Tour.  As part of my grant, our professors have assigned specific books that we have had to read.  One of them, Master of the Mountain, by Henry Wiencek, was particularly intriguing.  He suggests that this iconic president, the man who authored the Declaration of Independence in which it states that "all men are created equal," actually didn't truly believe it.  Jefferson had over 300 slaves in his lifetime and upon his death, only freed 7.  The book leads its readers to believe that Jefferson knew what he was doing and he chose not to free his slaves because he knew that he wouldn't have been able to prosper without them.  I absolutely loved the Slavery tour- the guide did not sugar coat anything.  He shared stories from the slaves' perspectives and like the book I read, they were so thought-provoking.  
 The garden area, as we walked along Mulberry Row, the area where Monticello's slaves worked
This fireplace is barely standing- there are plans for archaeologists to dig deeper in this area to recover artifacts from Mulberry Row.  We were told that in five years, this tour will be totally different as more things are uncovered.

 After the Slavery tour, we continued on the path to see the Monticello Graveyard, containing the graves of Jefferson, his family members, and relatives. Jefferson left directions that he wanted 3 things engraved on his tombstone: Author of the Declaration of Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.

This evening, we had dinner at a restaurant called, The Local.  They take pride in cooking with the freshest ingredients supplied from local farms.  Oooooh, it was so good (I started with mussels, had a chili-chipotle Berkshire pork chop, and finished with blackberry cobbler)!

Our journey continued after dinner as we boarded the bus and headed to Williamsburg.

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