There’s nothing like visiting a history site on a glorious early spring day after a long cold winter. I had the opportunity to visit President James Monroe’s Highland (as he named it) to hear a book talk during the Virginia Festival of the Book last month. I’d been to neighboring Monticello numerous times, but had never made the short journey down the road. Most Americans don’t know much about our fifth president, and I’m pretty typical.
Virginia has been called the cradle of American presidents. Eight were born in the state and most ended up living the majority of their adult lives there. Two presidents lived within view of each other. In the rolling countryside outside of Charlottesville stands Ash Lawn-Highland, James Monroe’s home and estate. Several miles away via winding country roads, or a few hills away, sits Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Apparently Jefferson selected the site because he wanted his friend nearby. President Monroe and wife Elizabeth lived in the house for over twenty-five years. At certain times of the year, Monticello can been seen from the Monroe property.
Ash Lawn-Highland, like Monticello, offers commanding views of the Virginia countryside. The house aptly reflects Monroe’s moniker for it: castle cabin. It blends in with the property much more than those of his fellow Virginia presidents (Jefferson, Madison, Washington). Enjoy these photos of a lesser known presidential estate in early springtime.