About Us

Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Chronology


  • Dec. 1- Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest established


  • Jan. 18- Deed signed between Dr. James Johnson and the Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest transferring ownership of house to the Corporation.
  • April- House is open to visitors for the first time for four days.


  • Lynn Beebe named first Director of Poplar Forest
  • National fundraising campaign opened
  • Corporation purchases additional 252 acres


  • House officially opens regularly to visitors on July 4th
  • Volunteer corps began


  • Al Chambers begins extensive documentary research on property.
  • Hosted a bicentennial celebration of the U.S. Constitution which featured the first living history presented on site on July 5th
  • October- Purchases of 78-acre Poplar Forest golf course and 38-acre Camp Ruthers
  • First Colony Life provided fund to renovate the North Tenant House for office spaces.
  • 6,600 visitors, an increase of 47% over the previous year


  • February- William Kelso appointed Director of Archaeology
  • June- Capital Campaign “The Governor’s Challenge to Virginians” begun with a $5 million goal
  • Dorsey Bodeman hired as Interpetation Coordinator- creates first volunteer training program
  • Conservation of original tulip poplars north of the villa completed
  • Stabilization work on the historic house completed


  • First Archaeological Field School held
  • Archaeology lab developed in 1915 barn
  • Travis McDonald hired as Restoration Coordinator in July
  • First Independence Day Celebration held on Sunday, July 3rd


  • March-Poplar Forest added into Virginia code under historical society to receive funds from state
  • April-Display window added to front of Archaeology lab for visitors to see lab work
  • May-Mesick Cohen Waite hired as restoration architect firm
  • July- First Restoration Field School held


  • Sept- pay off loan for purchase of property
  • Structural analysis to identify conservation needs begins


  • Archaeologists find north west clump of trees, north west oval planting bed, and a French drain off the Wing of Offices
  • Restortation work begins with conserving and improving the foundation
  • Maylia Green Rightmire Preservation Center built
  • 13,065 visitors


  • April- Mikhail Gorbachev speaks at Poplar Forest
  • Al Chambers’ book “Poplar Forest & Thomas Jefferson” published
  • Visitation season extended through November
  • Sheryl Kingery hired as first Director of Intepretation
  • Foundation of house conserved and waterproofed
  • Purchase of addition 75 acres of adjacent land
  • Slave Quarter Site discovered
  • 23,000 visitors, a 77% increase from the year before


  • Williams Archaeology Lab dedicated on June 2


  • Maylia Green Rightmire Preservation Center dedicated on May 14
  • Bob Villa visits Poplar Forest


  • Capital Campaign met challenge of funding a 68-acre land acquisition and establishing an endowment fund
  • North Hill site excavated by archaeology department. Evidence of earliest structure on property found


  • Exterior restoration of historic house completed
  • Interior restoration of historic house started.
  • National Preservation Award presented to the Corporation by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • South lawn archaeological excavations


  • 15th Anniversary of the beginning of the restoration
  • Poplar Forest designated an official project of Save America’s Treasures
  • Strategic Planning process undergone
  • School programs reached over 2,300 students


  • Time capsule buried to celebrate Jefferson’s birthday. Will be reopened during the 250th celebrations of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.
  • Hands on History center opened for school groups in April
  • Virginia’s First Lady, Roxanne Gilmore visits in November
  • First Conversations with Jefferson program held featuring John Adams


  • Restoration on Wing of Offices begins
  • School kits created to loan out to teachers
  • Children’s day camp offered in July
  • Corporation purchases 33 acres including the Prize Barn Site in November
  • “Shaping the World: Conversations on Democracy” program for students began


  • Poplar Forest Guidebook published


  • Lewis and Clark Exhibition from the National Park Service comes to Poplar Forest
  • Monticello’s north privy seat copied from Poplar Forest’s west privy original seat
  • 20th Anniversary dinner held at Poplar Forest


  • Thomas Jefferson: From Shadwell to Poplar Forest  by Jan Shaffer published
  • Poplar Forest acquires 72 acres of land to eventually build a new entrance road
  • Total of 542 acres of original land secured since 1983
  • One of the original dining room table donated to Poplar Forest


  • Hogshead (barrel used for shipping tobacco) acquired for exhibit
  • President’s Society membership levels formed


  • IMLS Museums for America grant recieve to focus on archaeology in the curtilage


  • Plantation Community Tours developed to focus on enslaved community
  • Poplar Forest added to U.S. Department of Interior’s tentative list from which to draw nominations for World Heritage List
  • Four tulip poplar trees planted to restore landscape at front of historic house


  • Celebration of completion of exterior of house including the Wing of Offices
  • Actors Robert Duvall, Connie Britton, and Scott Cooper speak at 25th Anniversary Dinner
  • Newly redesigned website launched
  • Curtilage Fence installed in August
  • First Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival held in November
  • Remaining two parts of original dining table donated to Poplar Forest by John Hutter
  • largest annual visitation to date, over 30,000 visitors


  • Ornamental Plant Nursery identified
  • Handicapped access to house installed
  • First year as a Blue Star Museum- offering free admission to active duty military and families from Memorial Day to Labor Day
  • Culture of the Earth booklet published by Archaeology Department
  • Garden Club of Virginia adopts Poplar Forest initial landscape projects as its next garden restoration project


  • Expanded Museum Shop and new public restrooms open to the public in April
  • First 5K race held to raise money for children’s programming
  • First Holiday Candlelight Tours held in November and December
  • Paint removed from original door by conservators in Williamsburg
  • Double row of paper mulberry trees planted on west side of historic house in November


  • Visitor Orientation Center opens for visitors
  • Archaeology Department publishes Jefferson’s Poplar Forest: Unearthing a Virginia Plantation 
  • Lynn Beebe retires as President in August
  • Jeffrey Nichols hired as President and CEO in September
  • Poplar Forest opens to public between Christmas and New Years
  • First Obstacle Course Race held in partnership with Jamerson YMCA


  • Boxwoods removed from carriage turnaround in September


  • Two-day symposium held in March in partnership with Randolph College titled Facing the Past, Freeing the Future: Slavery’s Legacy, Freedom’s Promise
  • First annual production of 1776 the Musical
  • Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission provides grant to add archaeologists for research on new Parkway


  • First Winter Weekends program offered-Poplar Forest open for tours on weekends Jan-Mar
  • First Naturalization Ceremony held on site in partnership with the Blue Ridge Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Resolution
  • Sculptor Richard Pumphrey unveils bronze bust of Jefferson as a gift to Poplar Forest in November
  • Parkway Archaeological Survey completed
  • Enslaved Community Tours offered to public


  • Jefferson’s Salon Series begins with a program entitled Black Resistance: Now & in Jefferson’s Time
  • Capital Campaign A New Path to Jefferson launched to fund new Parkway
  • Carriage Turnaround surface is excavated
  • African American Advisory Group formed  to help Poplar Forest ensure interpretation consistently places the lives and stories of enslaved people on equal footing to other stories


  • Lynchburg City Planning Commission approves permit to build new Parkway
  • First production of The Day is Past and Gone
  • Challenge grant from Mary Morton Parson’s Foundation for $350,000 received


  • Ceiling plaster is replaced during winter
  • Juneteenth Celebration held in June
  • Archaeology and Restoration Field Schools investigate the South Tenant House
  • Palladian style dog kennel opened for visitors
  • Corporation purchases a hand-drawn map by Jefferson of Poplar Forest’s fields
  • South Tenant House renamed the 1857 Slave Dwelling. North side of structure turned into exhibit space and houses Enslaved Community Talks


  • Grant for $250,000 from Watson-Brown Foundation received
  • Grant for $148,400 from the Institute for Museum and Library Services received
  • Carriage Turnaround restoration completed
  • Jeffrey Nichols steps down as President and CEO in August
  • Alyson Ramsey appointed interim President and CEO
  • Programming partnership with Academy Center of the Arts begins


  • Alyson Ramsey appointed President and CEO
  • COVID-19 Pandemic forces Poplar Forest to close for several months with most staff working from home
  • Poplar Forest reopened on a limited basis in June
  • Poplar Forest smart phone app developed- visitors can now tour the house on their own with the app or on a guided tour
  • Anonymous donor gifts Poplar Forest a custom built Phaeton for display and use
  • Grants from IMLS, Daughters of American Colonists and Virginia Huminites support new exhibit signs at the Quarter Site


  • Construction on Poplar Forest Parkway begins
  • Garden Club of Virginia and Poplar Forest dedicate three planting projects: the double row of paper mulberry trees, the clumps of trees and three oval beds of roses completing the restoration of the landscape to the north of Jefferson’s villa


  • Poplar Forest Parkway opened to public in August
  • New Interpretive signs at Quarter Site highlight lives of the enslaved community
  • Roots & Reconnection: Celebrating Our Story event held as grand opening of new exhibit


  • Restoration of Jefferson’s villa completed
  • Interpretive signs along Poplar Forest Parkway installed
  • 40th Anniversary Gala held on April 28
  • Director of Architectural Restoration Travis McDonald retired in June