Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built
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Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  15 reviews
When Thomas Jefferson died on the Fourth of July 1826 -- the nation's fiftieth birthday -- he was more than $100,000 in debt. Forced to sell thousands of acres of his lands and nearly all of his furniture and artwork, in 1831 his heirs bid a final goodbye to Monticello itself. The house their illustrious patriarch had lovingly designed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgin...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published October 23rd 2001 by Free Press
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A fascinating look into the history and owners of Thomas Jefferson's home from Jefferson, himself, through to the present owner, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.

Many people may assume that when Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 the house was left to some preservation trust. This is not the case. When Thomas Jefferson passed away, he was over $100,000 (approx. 2 million dollars by today's standards) in debt and Monticello was sold.

Over the years, there were a number of owners and caretakers...more
Alan Kaplan
Fascinating book on the history of Monticello. When Thomas Jefferson died, he left his family with a debt of over $100,000. His entire estate, including Monticello had to be liquidated by his surviving daughter. It is hard to believe, but true, that no one wanted to buy Monticello or most of his personal possessions. The state of Virginia and the federal government refused to buy the property. Uriah Levy, a Jewish officer in the US Navy bought the property and his family maintained the property...more
Very well-researched and presented story of what happened to Monticello after Thomas Jefferson's death. A colorful family including an iconoclastic Navy commander and his nephew, a New York financial speculator, purchased and kept up Jefferson's home during many years in which no one else wanted it, and during which it would certainly have gone to ruin. Then, a vehement campaign on the part of a disgruntled woman, which may have been partially anti-Semitic in intent, browbeat the owner, Jefferso...more
This is a really interesting book of history on many levels. The history of the house is interesting enough, but the intrigues of ownership are really amazing. Reading about the attitude and ineptitude of the US government in relation to owning, maintaining and restoring this historical jewel was rather shocking. Like Mount Vernon, it took a private group to finally purchase the house to keep it from disintegrating back into the Virginia soil. A great read!
Keli Wright
I heard about about this book on the Diane Rehm show website and then found it at my local library. I really enjoyed reading about this. I had no idea all of this happened with Monticello. It was so interesting. I am ready to go visit Monticello now and fun fact I did not know until the end, the author is from Middleburg, VA my father's home town.
very interesting--I am certainly glad the home and grounds have been preserved and are accessible to the public--we enjoyed our visit there this summer and 8 years ago as well
Interesting story of presevation, litigation, and social/political influence on private property. At times hard to read, but worth finishing.
Fascinating preservation story, which is not a bit like many other preservation stories. Well-researched and well written.
I found this an interesting, but confusing read.
This book is obviously well researched, and I commend the author for that. But the sentence structure was very hard to read sometimes. I found myself rereading two or three sentences on every page because of the wording.

The beginning of the book was a bit confusing, as well, because of all the family lineage. There are family trees in the back for the Levy and Jefferson families, but I didn't know that until I had already finished the book. Had they been placed up front, it would've been more he...more
Sloppy editing and uneven timelines make this book somewhat hard to follow. The detailed accounts of documented activity can read like a bogged down social register and you may find yourself asking, "Why did the author think this was important?" But the answer, on every page, is clearly, "because these people helped save Monticello." Skim the mini paragraphs near the end itemizing Jefferson Levy's rigorous travel schedule and focus on the big picture. Uriah Levy (pronounced "leh-vee") and then h...more
Anne Powell
This is the story of Monticello post-Jefferson. The book is interesting and informative. If I have a complaint, it's that the Kindle version, which I read, was not very well done. There are constant long blocks of text throughout the book and many grammatical and spacing errors. That said, I still enjoyed learning about the history of Monticello's restoration.
Kellie S.
Very well researched. Interesting enough to finish, but could have been much shorter. Somewhat confusing at times.
interesting and informative. Read it before a planned visit to Monticello.
Kerrlita Westrick
Interesting history, probably could have been shorter.
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Historian and journalist Marc Leepson is the author of seven books, including What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life (Palgrave, 2014), the first biography of Key in more than seventy-five years; Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General, a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette (Palgrave, 2011); Desperate Engagement, the story of the little-known but crucial J...more
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