One of only two homes Thomas Jefferson designed for his personal use, the Poplar Forest retreat was the place where Jefferson “came to indulge in the life of the mind and renew his personal creativity.” Jefferson and his wife, Martha, inherited the Bedford County plantation known as Poplar Forest from her father in 1773. When his presidency ended in 1809, Jefferson visited the retreat three or four times a year, often staying for several months at a time during planting seasons.
Designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, and nearly lost to development, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains was rescued in 1984 by a group of local citizens who sought to preserve it for the cultural and educational benefit of the public. Poplar Forest was opened to the public for the first time in 1986, in its “before restoration” state. Today, the neoclassical architecture of the octagonal house has been returned to Mr. Jefferson’s design. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recognized the meticulous research and restoration efforts with its highest award, and the plantation has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to Poplar Forest offers a unique opportunity to observe a “live” archaeological dig and historic restoration in progress, as efforts to reveal and restore Thomas Jefferson’s vision for his personal retreat continue.
Poplar Forest is open daily from March 15 through December 30 (closed on Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (last tour leaving at 4:00 p.m.) and winter weekends starting January 15 through March 15 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. (last tour leaving at 3:00 p.m.). For more information, visit poplarforest.org or call 434.525.1806.