“Home of President James Monroe”
Ash Lawn-Highland is an historic house museum, 535-acre working farm, and performing arts site in Albemarle County, Virginia. President James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe of New York, owned Ash Lawn-Highland from 1793 to 1826 and made it their official residence from 1799 to 1823. After the Monroes' death, the name of their farm was changed from "Highland" to "Ash Lawn"; today both names are used. Ash Lawn-Highland was opened for public visitation in 1931 by philanthropist Jay Winston and Helen Lambert Johns. Upon his death in late 1974, Johns bequeathed Ash Lawn-Highland to the College of William and Mary, alma mater of James Monroe. Accepting the Johns bequest "to operate this property as a historic shrine for the education of the general public," the College initiated new programs in restoration and interpretation at Ash Lawn-Highland.
I was pleasantly surprised by this place. It's much smaller than other President's homes, but the staff/tour guides make up for that with shear knowledge of this cool president. When we went it was pouring down rain, so we didn't spend much time checking out the grounds or out-buildings, but even without that it was well worth the trip. The main house is pretty basic, though very authentic. Our tour guide was fabulous. He knew a lot about Monroe and his life and family and took pride in sharing that information in a way that kept your attention. The groups are small (there were only 7 in mine) which make it easier to ask questions and dialogue about what you're seeing/hearing. Very good!
The staff is amazing! They are super knowledgable! The grounds are expansive and the house is smaller than expected but the tour explains why! Check out groupon for tour discounts occasionally!
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