[I]n 1806, as Monticello neared completion, Jefferson began to build Poplar Forest, a more private retreat: a modest octagonal home with a skylight-topped central room shaped in a perfect cube. And let us detour here for a moment. Poplar Forest seeks the same stylistic resonances as Monticello, though in a more intimate context, its geometric core and extravagantly tall windows opening onto rolling fields and hills. “When finished,” Jefferson wrote of this building in 1812, “it will be the best dwelling house in the state, except that of Monticello; perhaps preferable to that, as more proportioned to the faculties of a private citizen.”To read more about Poplar Forest in particular, click here.
In recent years, after being rescued from generations of owners and their modifications, Poplar Forest has been straining for attention, welcoming just 20,000 visitors a year. Now celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s first extended stay there, it is displaying an ever-expanding yet refined restoration that began more than 20 years ago. It affords a chance to see Jefferson’s thoughts about space, stripped of all ornament and furnishing. We see bare brick and plaster, the walls’ inner supports for arched windows, the skylights and surrounding panoramic views that in early America must have been a revelation.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Jefferson's Other Home
From the Arts section of The New York Times, Edward Rothstein highlights Jefferson's private retreat (which is now open to the public):