The marker reads: This estate was the home of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States. In 1793, James and Elizabeth Kortright Monroe purchased 1,000 acres adjoining Jefferson's Monticello. Called Highland, the plantation, eventually totaling 3,500 acres, was their principal residence from 1799 to 1823. Known in foreign affairs for the Monroe Doctrine, James Monroe also served as governor of Virginia for four one-year terms; U.S. minister to England, France, and Spain; U.S. senator; and secretary of state and war. Enlarged and renamed by subsequent owners, Ash Lawn-Highland is now owned by Monroe's alma mater, the College of William and Mary.~FL-8
This is the Estate of President James Monroe, preserved in a recreation of a working 19th century farm and gardens. I'm sure the restoration done here was very difficult work with having to preserve this, but go here before you visit Jeffersons Monticello, as this estate, in my opinion, pales in comparison to the architecture and historic importance.
Fifth president James Monroe fought in the Revolution, was wounded in Trenton, and went on to hold more public offices than any other president. Monroe's close friendship with Thomas Jefferson brought him from Fredericksburg to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Jefferson wished to create "a society to our taste." In 1793, Monroe purchased 1,000 acres adjacent to Monticello and built an estate he called "Highland" (the name Ash Lawn was added in 1838). Before he could settle in, Washington named him minister to France and sent him to Paris for 3 years. During his absence, Jefferson sent gardeners over to start orchards, and the Madisons made agricultural contributions as well. By the time Monroe returned, he was suffering financial difficulties, and his "cabin castle" developed along more modest lines than originally intended. When Monroe retired in 1825, his debts totaled $75,000, and he was forced to sell his farm. A later owner, John Massey, built a two-story addition to the main house in 1884.
Today Monroe's 535-acre estate is owned and maintained as a working farm by his alma mater, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Livestock, vegetable and herb gardens, and colonial crafts demonstrations recall the elements of daily life on the Monroe plantation. Horses, sheep, and cattle graze in the fields, while peacocks roam the boxwood gardens. Five original rooms remain, along with the basement kitchen, the overseer's cottage, restored slave quarters, and the old smokehouse. On a 30-minute house tour, you'll see some of the family's original furnishings and artifacts and learn a great deal about the fifth president. Allow another 30 minutes to explore the grounds and gift shop on your own.
“The American continents ... are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.”
— from the Monroe Doctrine
We were told it was the courting season for the peacocks on the grounds of Ash Lawn-Highland. Part of that process includes the proud peacock showing off his feathers for the peahen. One of these birds must have been the dumbest or the horniest thing on the farm because he was showing off, in full plumage, for a chicken!
“Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all — liberty!”
— James Monroe (1758-1831)
A group of school children were spending the day at Ash Lawn-Highland the day of our visit. Dressed in period costume, sewn by the mother of one of the children, they played games that their 18th and 19th century counterparts would have played. According to their teacher, that night they were scheduled to camp out on the grounds and leave the next day.
Located just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, Monroe’s plantation was called Highland, but before Monroe could begin building a house, he was appointed Minister to France by President George Washington.
While Monroe was away, Jefferson and James Madison worked with Monroe’s uncle, Joseph Jones, to plan the house and gardens at Highland. Monroe called Highland his “cabin castle” because it was nothing special in design but was filled with art and memorabilia he had acquired in Europe. Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright of New York, moved into the house in 1799. The working plantation grew grains and tobacco, and was known for raising Merino sheep for their wool. The Monroes had planned to retire to Highland, but were forced to sell the estate in 1826 because of Monroe’s poor health and indebtedness.
During the next 150 years, the house had several other owners. The front part of the house burned down and was rebuilt in another style. The gardens were radically changed as well. One occupant planted ash trees around the house and renamed the property Ash Lawn. In 1974, the last private owner, Jay Winston Johns, gave Ash Lawn-Highland to James Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary, which continues to operate its remaining 535 acres today.
The guided tours of the house are excellent. Beginning in the reconstructed front hall and parlor, the guides explain displays of artifacts, as well as a summary of Monroe’s private and political life. Moving into the original sitting room, tourists can see the Monroes’ furniture, a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte, and portraits of family and friends. The next is the dining room, set up as the Monroes and their guests might have used it. Next, is Monroe’s study; it contains a replica of his writing desk and a copy of the portrait Jefferson gave to Monroe in appreciation for years of friendship. The Monroe bedroom shows off more furniture and artwork owned by the fifth U.S. president. After leaving the house through the door which faces Monticello, the tour continues under the house with a display of kitchen items and a discussion of colonial food and how it was prepared. Imagine living through the winters on a monotonous diet of pickled vegetables and smoked pork, with the occasional bit of fresh game.
“One wooden dwelling house, the walls filled with brick. One story high, 40 by 30 ft. Wooden Wing one storey high, 34 by 18 ft.”
— James Monroe (1758-1831), how he described his home in 1800
HOUSE SIMPLE It is the white structure (see photos #1 & #4) that Monroe called home. The two-story yellow addition (see photos #2, #3 & #5) was built after 1867 by John Massey, whose family would own the plantation for 67 years.
What’s in a name? Monroe called his plantation Highland. Alexander Garrett, who was two owners removed from Monroe, gave the property its second name, Ash Lawn, which remained with it until today. Because the property had been known as Ash Lawn for longer than it was known as Highland, both names are used today.
Interior photos were not allowed, such a difference from European house museums, where photos can be taken of just about everything. Silly Americans are over jittery about copyright laws. It is too bad. Unlike Montpelier, with its grand size and architecture designed to impress, Highland, in its simple frame style, is fully furnished in the most endearing way, with some genuine pieces having belonged to the Monroes and other pieces from the period. Our tour guide here was very good.
“National honor is the national property of the highest value.”
— James Monroe
PROPERTY VALUE Today, Ash Lawn-Highland is a 535-acre working farm, including a picket fence-enclosed vegetable garden (see photo #1), flower gardens (see photo #5) and rose-covered arbors (see photo #3), plus broad lawns and fields. Visitors are allowed to walk around the grounds for as long as they like after the tour, which I suggest you take.
Ash Lawn-Highland was the home of James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States.It was sold several times after Monroe sold the plantation to pay debts in 1826 and retire to Oak Hill in Loudoun County, VA.
The last time it was sold was in 1930; the buyer was philanthropist Jay Winston Johns of Pittsburgh, PA. Soon after they purchased the property the Johns family opened the house to the public and tours were conducted. When he died in 1974 Johns willed the property to James Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, which continues to own and operate the house and plantation today.
Jay Winston Johns’s bequest came with instructions “to operate this property as a historic shrine for the education of the general public.”
“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.”
— James Monroe
In a clearing, at the end of a boxwood allée looms a colossal likeness of the nation’s fifth president.
Monroe’s two-term presidency, 1817-1825, was known as The Era of Good Feelings. There has not been one since!
Ash Lawn-Highland is about 2.5 miles distance from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Jefferson was Monroe’s law teacher and mentor; they became lifelong friends. Jefferson urged Monroe to settle near Monticello. In 1793, Monroe bought a thousand acres of land adjoining Monticello for $1,000.
Ash Lawn-Highland is an historic house museum, 535-acre working farm, and performing arts site in Albemarle County, Virginia. We walked through the gardens with very high boxwood trees, saw the sheep, peacocks, sheep, cows & horses on the grounds. We saw the slaves quarters on the grounds. President James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe of New York, owned Ash Lawn-Highland from 1793 to 1826 and made it their official residence from 1799 to 1823. After the Monroes' death, the name of their farm was changed from "Highland" to "Ash Lawn"; today both names are used.
Ash Lawn-Highland was opened for public visitation in 1931 by philanthropist Jay Winston and Helen Lambert Johns. Upon his death in late 1974, Johns bequeathed Ash Lawn-Highland to the College of William and Mary, alma mater of James Monroe. Accepting the Johns bequest "to operate this property as a historic shrine for the education of the general public," the College initiated new programs in restoration and interpretation at Ash Lawn-Highland.
Our informative and long winded guide dressed in the era. There were a half dozen children under 10 in the group that she catered the tour to.
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States, from 1817 to 1825. He is best remembered for his 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which said that the United States would resist any European meddling in the Western Hemisphere. In return, he promised to keep his country from interfering in Europe. It was a bold step for such a young nation. And it stayed in effect until World War I.
Monroe also supported the American Colonization Society, which sought to colonize West Africa with former slaves. This led to the foundation of Liberia; its capital is named Monrovia in his honor.
Monroe and his wife owned this home from 1793 to 1826. In 1931, it was opened to the public by Jay Winston and Helen Lambert Johns. They bequeathed it to Monroe's alma mater, the College of William and Mary. To this day, the College continues to operate the estate.
Tours of the house are given daily. No photos are allowed inside the house, but the rest of the estate is fair game. Be sure to check out the gardens and slave quarters.
ashlawn was the home of james monroe, the fifth president of the united states. this site is passed by many visitors to charlottesville because of the more famous home of thomas jefferson. a very worthwhile site to visit when in charlottesville area.. monroe built his house on a hill not far from from jefferson's monticello. they would conmmuicate by waving flags to each other. an interesting and historical place to visit when the charlottesville area. a good web site to visit is http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ to learn more about president james monroe.
Where domestic matters were concerned, James Monroe distrusted a strong, centralized government . He believed in the capabilities of the hard-working farmers of the age and the craftspeople to keep the economy strong.
Monroe thought the needs of the public should come before personal benefit and political ambition. He was Nationalist in diplomacy and defense.
James and Elizabeth Monroe had three children, Eliza, James Spence Monroe and Maria Hester. The Monroe family lived at Highland, the Albemarle County plantation for twenty-four years.
James Monroe died on July 4, 1831 in New York City at the home of his daughter, Maria Hester. His tomb is at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
Ash Lawn-Highland is near Monticello, so it would be easy to view it on the same day. It was the home of President James Monroe.
James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758. When he was 18 he became a scout. He participated in the Battle of Trenton where he was wounded and eventually achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the military. He married Elizabeth Kornright of New York city and they had three children.
James Monroe met then Governor Thomas Jefferson while in Williamsburg. Jefferson mentored him in law and they became good friends. Monroe went on to play a large role in the birth of our nation. In 1860 James Monroe became the fifth President of the United States, spending fifty years in public service.
Ash Lawn-Highland is a 535 acre working farm which includes a home, gardens, farm animals and out buildings. Hours are April 1-October 31 9-6 p.m.; November 1-March 31 11-5 p.m. The cost is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, AAA member with ID $8 and for children 6-11 $5.
Ashlawn-Highland was the home of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States. It is owned and operated by the College of William and Mary.
Monroe was born April 28, 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Like Jefferson, he attended the College of William and Mary.
It is interesting to note that he studied law under Governor Thomas Jefferson in Williamsburg.