One well-known Jeffersonian historian firmly believed Thomas Jefferson’s “greatest intellectual energies and original talents were devoted to architecture.” It is for his architecture that Jefferson’s works are listed on the World Heritage List as masterpieces of human creative genius that have universal value to all mankind.
Why then would his most ideal and personal work of architecture, his most mature domestic work in which he lived for fourteen years, be relatively unknown?
This is the story of how Thomas Jefferson’s villa retreat, Poplar Forest, came to be rediscovered and appreciated as one of his most important works, a true masterpiece of architectural and landscape elements. The stories here tell the incredible journey of understanding and confirming Jefferson’s brilliant design and putting it back together in a process that mirrors Jefferson’s long, painstaking effort to create this unique and personal work.
Sold after his death, altered and fallen into disrepair, Poplar Forest is today being restored. It is emerging as a stunning environment where architecture and landscape are seamlessly intertwined. The study of Poplar Forest is shedding new light on Thomas Jefferson, his creativity, his curiosity and his private world.
The restoration journey, of both house and landscape, is providing a place and an experience that allows us to feel anew what rekindled Thomas Jefferson’s own inspiration and spirit at the end of his life.
It is the goal of the nonprofit Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest to preserve and, where possible, restore all the aspects of the heart of Thomas Jefferson’s retreat. That encompasses the buildings and landscape of the villa retreat Jefferson created in the midst of his plantation, plus the diverse features at the core of the farm—including its buildings, fences, and roads.