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Monticello Architectural Image Collection

Identifier: Architectural Image Collection

Scope and Contents

The Monticello Architectural Image Collection consists of over 1,450 photographs, slides and negatives, and reproductions of drawings, paintings, and engravings of the exterior and interior of Monticello and the grounds that surround it.

The collection was started in the 1950s by Curator, James A. Bear, Jr., as the “Iconography File” to allow researchers and historians access to the images of Monticello housed by the Foundation.  It was greatly expanded in the 1980s when the Foundation placed ads in local Virginia newspapers asking people to send in personal, pre-World War II images of Monticello to aid in the restoration process.  The collection was then gathered and organized, and today, this collection allows scholars, researchers, and architects to trace the physical development of Monticello.

The images in the collection range from copies of Thomas Jefferson’s original 1770 drawings to contemporary photographs.  They vary in size from 2" x 2” to 10" x 13” images, and include both professional quality images and snapshots from early visitors.  The photographs are primarily in black and white, with a few color images and some color transparencies.  Notable features include original stereographs and photo cards from the 1880s to the 1920s, a complete photographic documentation of the house and grounds from 1912 by R. W. Holsinger, restoration photographs from the 1940s and 1950s and some unique early tourism and promotional images.

The images are indexed to the file level, not the image level.  Most of the files contain additional information such as written descriptions of Monticello, correspondence written by visitors, donor documentation, and published articles that contain the images.


  • ***Undated Collection***

Conditions Governing Access:

The Monticello Architectural Image Collection is a restricted access archival collection available on request by researchers for on-site use.  Photocopying is permitted for reference use only upon receipt of staff approval.  Some items may not be copied because of physical condition.

Conditions Governing Use:

Special permission may be granted for reproducing certain images in the collection.  All digital image requests for publication purposes will need to be routed through Marketing and Communications - refer to:

Approved use requires printing the following acknowledgement along with each image:  “From the Monticello Architectural Image Collection, Jefferson Library, courtesy Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.”

Administrative History:

Chronology of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello:

1743.  Thomas Jefferson born April 13 at Shadwell in Albemarle County, Virginia.

1764.  Thomas Jefferson inherits 2,750 acres of land from his father, which will become the grounds for his future home, Monticello.

1768.  Jefferson begins the planning and building of Monticello I.

1770.  The South Pavilion, the first brick structure at Monticello, is completed and Jefferson moves into it.

1770s.  First drawings of Monticello I in collection.

1771.  First sections of the main house are built.

1772.  Jefferson marries Martha Wayles Skelton and the married couple live in the South Pavilion.

1774.  Main house and interior of Monticello I primarily finished.

1796-1809.  Jefferson begins and completes the remodeling and enlarging of Monticello, i.e. Monticello II,  including the addition of the dome and the southwest portico.

1826.  Jefferson dies at Monticello on July 4, leaving his descendents with a debt of $107,000.

1827-29.  Jefferson descendents are forced to sell Monticello's furnishings, slaves, paintings and books.

1831.  James T. Barclay (1807-1874) purchases Monticello with the hope of turning it into a silk farm.

1834.  Monticello purchased by Commodore Uriah P. Levy (1792- 1862).  Levy plans to restore Monticello and make it available to visitors.

1862.  Levy dies, leaving Monticello to the people of the United States as a shrine to Jefferson.  The Government refuses his offer and the house is seized by the Confederate States of America and sold.  After the Civil War, descendents of Uriah P. Levy fight to gain control of Monticello.

1870s.  Earliest photographs of Monticello in collection.

1879.  Jefferson Monroe Levy (1852-1924), nephew of Uriah P. Levy, gains control of Monticello.  The house had fallen into disrepair and Levy spends the next forty-four years of his life restoring and caring for Monticello, allowing access to visitors.

1912.  Levy hires R. W. Holsinger of Charlottesville, VA to document the exterior and interior, including furnishings, of Monticello in photographs.

1923.  The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation is formed and its members raise $500,000 for the purchase of Monticello from Levy with the goal of preserving and maintaining Monticello as a memorial to Thomas Jefferson.

1924.  The Foundation begins the restoration of Monticello to Thomas Jefferson’s original design.

Further Reading:

For a complete chronology of the life of Thomas Jefferson, see Writings/Thomas Jefferson by Merrill D.  Peterson, 1984.

For a chronology of Monticello, see Monticello in Measured Drawings by William L. Beiswanger, 1998.

For a complete chronology of the restoration of Monticello, see Celebrating Seventy-Five Years of Preservation and Education—The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc. 1923-1998, 1998.

For an online chronology of Jefferson and Monticello, see:


12.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Monticello Architectural Image Collection enables researchers to trace the physical history of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, from the 1770’s to the present.  The collection consists of photographs, drawings, paintings, slides, etc. of the exterior, interior with furnishings, and grounds at Monticello.

Arrangement of Materials:

The collection is housed in three file drawers in the Mary Clark Rockefeller Special Collections Room at the Jefferson Library.

The collection is divided into three major parts, each housed in a separate drawer.  Each part consists of folders, and within each folder are files, arranged chronologically.


Series I A :  Buildings Inspired by Monticello’s Architecture Organized by State (20 folders)

Series I B :  Miscellaneous Images, Documents, and Correspondence (12 folders)

Series I C :  Exterior Views

Subseries I a – East Front (9 folders)

Subseries I b – West Front (11 folders)

Subseries I c – Other Views and Details (10 folders)


Series II : Interior Views

Subseries II a – Basement & Dependencies (9 folders)

Subseries II b – Main Floor (23 folders)

Subseries II c – Third Floor (8 folders)

Subseries II d – Fourth Floor (4 folders)

Subseries II e – Furnishings & Hardware (2 folders)


Series III : Grounds and Other Structures

Subseries III a – Monticello Mountaintop & Vicinity (15 folders)

Subseries III b – Long Range Views (2 folders)

Subseries III c – Other TJMF Locations (3 folders)

Series IV : Family Files (4 folders)

Abbreviations / Terminology Used:

TJ  =  Thomas Jefferson

TJMF  =  Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1923-2000 [Name changed to Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. with effect from January 2001]

TJF  =  Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

B/W  =  Black-and -white

Col.  =  Color

Unk.  =  Unknown artist or photographer

Correspondence  =  Refers to any written documents found in the files including, but not limited to, donor information, descriptions of the house and/or grounds, questions about specific features of the house, etc.

Physical Description

Over 1,450 images

Guide to the Monticello Architectural Image Collection
Jennifer Parker, 2003; Updated by Larry McMahan, 2011-2012.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Archives Repository

Jefferson Library, Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Post Office Box 316
Charlottesville VA 22902
(434) 984-7543