Karen Warren

Poplar Forest: The Retreat Home of Thomas Jefferson

Only one of two homes Thomas Jefferson designed for his personal use, Poplar Forest 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 from her father in 1773. In 1806 Jefferson traveled to Washington to supervise the laying of the foundation for the octagonal house. When his presidency ended in 1809, Jefferson visited the retreat three or four times a year- often coinciding his visits with the planting seasons, staying from two weeks to two months.

From 1828 to 1984, the house went through private hands, unrelated to Jefferson, who made changes to the house to accommodate their large families. In 1984, in order to rescue it from commercial buyers, a group of local citizens bought Poplar Forest and began to restore it to Jefferson’s original neoclassical design, complete with original octagonal privies! You’ll learn the history of Jefferson’s “favorite” possession and how it is interpreted today.

Karen Warren

Karen Warren is the Shop Manager at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest (poplarforest.org), Forest, Virginia.

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