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Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson's plantation and plantation house in what is now Forest, Virginiamarker, near Lynchburgmarker, which he treated as a private retreat and upon which he lavished attention from 1806 until his death 20 years later. "It is the most valuable of my possessions," Jefferson once wrote a correspondent.

History

Jefferson's "Poplar Forest"

While well known as the architect of such buildings as Monticellomarker, the University of Virginiamarker, and the Virginia State Capitolmarker, Jefferson built the more remote and lesser-known Poplar Forest as a place to escape the hordes of visitors at Monticello and seek the "solitude of a hermit."

Jefferson inherited the estate of 4,800 acres (19 kmĀ²) in 1773 from his father-in-law, John Wayles. He supervised the laying of the foundations for a new octagonal house in 1806, while still President of the United States. The octagon house, built in accordance with Palladian principles, includes a central cube room, on a side, porticos to the north and south, and a service wing to the east.

Poplar Forest After Jefferson

Poplar Forest was originally bequeathed to Jefferson's grandson Francis W. Eppes upon his marriage. Eppes and his bride lived there only a short time and sold the plantation in 1828.

The house underwent many alterations over the years, and its area was incrementally reduced to just . The house is in part now surrounded by suburban subdivisions. Since 1986, the house has been undergoing several phases of restoration to return it to the state it was in when Jefferson lived there. Over of the original plantation has been bought back to provide a landscape easement for the house. Archaeology has been under way for over twenty years to restore the ornamental landscape and architecture of the house. Based on this work, the service wing, which was demolished in 1840, is being rebuilt. Archaeology has also focused on uncovering the remains of Poplar Forest's enslaved African American community and the broader agricultural landscape that occupied the property from the mid 18th-century through the Civil War.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971.

Poplar Forest was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production, Guide to Historic Homes of America (1996), during its complete restoration.

It is located at 1548 Bateman Bridge Road in Forest, Virginiamarker.

Museum

The house is open to the public for tours from April through November. The Hands-on History Center provides on-site programs for school groups in grades 2 and up.

References

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See also



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