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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson's Retreat

Just a short drive from Bedford, is Forest, Virginia. Here you'll find a favorite retreat of Thomas Jefferson. This is where he would come, after his Presidency, when he wanted quiet and solitude.

Jefferson and his wife, Martha, inherited Poplar Forest from Martha's father in
1773. It was a 4819 acre successful plantation that gave Jefferson a good income. It also provided him with a great place to pursue his love for reading, writing, and gardening after his retirement from public service in 1809. He would come here three to four times a year, staying for as long as two months at a time.

In 1823, Jefferson made his last trip to Poplar Forest. It was during this trip that he settled his grandson, Francis Eppes, in residence on the property. Jefferson had taken over raising Francis upon the death of his parents and saw that Francis was educated properly right in the area at the New London Academy. Francis ultimately
inherited Poplar Forest upon his grandfather's death in 1826. Two years later Francis sold the property to a neighbor and moved to Tallahassee, Florida. He followed in his grandfather's footsteps by founding a school that would become today's Florida State University.

Poplar Forest was privately owned until 1984 when a nonprofit organization purchased the property and opened it to the public in 1986. Because of previous sales, the property is no longer comprised of the original 4819 acres, but several hundred acres have been preserved for restoration. The home is now being restored to the way it was during Jefferson's ownership. It is interesting to walk
through the home and see the progress of the restoration. Likewise, the grounds will be restored to the plantings and landscaping of Jefferson's time. It is a work in progress.

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