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Tour of James Monroe's Highland Estate

James Monroe's Highland
Highland estate house. Credit: © Scott Bateman
James Monroe’s Highland is the former official home of the U.S. president and a pleasant afternoon tour in the rolling hills outside of Charlottesville.

The fifth U.S. president and his wife owned the property from 1793 to 1826 and made it his official residence from 1799 to 1823, according to William and Mary College, current owner of the estate.

The last private owner of the estate bequeathed it to the college where Monroe studied from 1774 to 1776.

The Highland estate offers self-guided tours throughout the year. It also offers 35 minute guided tours. Visitors should expect to plan up to two hours visiting the buildings, gardens and grounds.

They will find a long entrance drive with a canopy of old white ash trees arching overhead that by itself is worthy of photos. At the end of the drive, a one-story visitor center provides access to the grounds and some welcome shade from the heat of the day for anyone touring in the summer.

After exiting the back of the center, visitors will walked down a walled garden path with a statue of Monroe in the distance.

If taking the tour, visitors will want to turn left to tour the home. A later owner was built over most of the original Monroe home. Near the entrance, note the massive 300-year-old white oak that stands in front of the house.

Once inside, the house reveals art and furniture originally owned by Monroe and his wife Elizabeth. A tour guide is most helpful in explaining Monroe’s life, the history of the home, and the origins of the art and furnishings.

Outside of the house, a partly sunken formal garden offers some photo opportunities.

The kitchen yard still contains the original smokehouse that was used to cure meats and fish. Next to the smokehouse is a reconstructed three-room dwelling, which may have housed slaves, and the overseer’s cottage, which is probably the plantation’s oldest outbuilding.

About James Monroe


James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1758. He left studies at William and Mary to join the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

After leaving the army in 1779, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Militia. He went on to practice law and begin a career in public service that lasted the rest of his life.

Monroe was elected to the Virginia General Assembly and served in the Confederation Congress and U.S. Senate; named minister to France, England and Spain during three separate appointments; elected to four one-year terms as Virginia governor; and appointed Secretary of State and Secretary of War before becoming President.

He also is known for negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, developing the Missouri Compromise and establishing what became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

Hours and Location

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., November through March; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., April through October
Location: Charlottesville
Address: 2050 James Monroe Parkway , 22902
Telephone: (434) 293-8000
Web site: http://highland.org/
Cost: Adults $14, seniors $12, youth 6-11 $8, under 6 free
Latitude: 37.982448
Longitude: -78.455457
Categories > Central Virginia > Charlottesville > Cultural > Educational > Historical

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