|What a surprise it was for me to learn that we could tour Tuckahoe Plantation.
Of course we wanted to see Jefferson’s boyhood home! Tuckahoe Plantation
is located seven miles west of Richmond, and is shown by appointment only.
The Thompson family lives in the mansion and it is a working farm. This
made it all the more interesting for us. We saw the eleven year old daughter’s
room, which may have been Thomas Jefferson’s own - so many years ago. Among
her porcelain dolls were Beanie Babies.
Our tour was given by the housekeeper, Mrs. Harris. Since we were a small group, she allowed us into the rooms that are often roped off, to get a close up look at the many things she pointed out. In one room, she drew our attention to the scratchings on the windows where, so long ago, a daughter proved that her fiancee was worthy because her ring was a "true diamond". The many antiques with their own unique stories held the interest of the six kids I had with me that day (ranging in age from 8 - 14). Mrs. Harris was a warm guide who clearly loves this historic site.
When you arrive, the mansion exterior seems simple as opposed to elegant. Going inside is what causes you to recognize its magnificence. The paneling on the interior walls is incredible, as are the staircases. The many outbuildings and gardens that make up the self-guided part of our tour allowed us to spend as much time as we wanted. The old kitchen, smokehouse, slave quarters, and other outbuildings reminded us a great deal of Colonial Williamsburg.
We were shown the schoolhouse where Jefferson learned to read and write. The schoolhouse now serves as the gift shop and available there is a book, Tuckahoe Plantation , which as written by Addison Baker Thompson (the current owner). It is well written and provides even more information on the remarkable history of this fine early 18th-century plantation that was the home of Thomas Jefferson from the ages of two to nine. The cost for this book is $6.50.
Visiting the Tuckahoe Plantation was a powerful step back in history. The fact that it has been a well-maintained home and working farm for nearly 275 years is in contrast to other Jeffersonian favorites that are museums and commercial enterprises. It somehow felt more real.
From Charlottesville, 64E to Gaskins Road South.
Right onto Gaskins Road to its intersection with River Road.
(You should expect to go through many intersections before you hit River Road.)
Turn right at stoplight of River Road intersection.
Proceed 2.8 miles west until you notice Blair Road.
Take the next left after Blair Road.
You will see a small Tuckahoe sign and drive through two white pillars.
Go down the one mile tree lined lane and park in the "car park" field that is clearly designated.
Remember that you must make an appointment to tour Tuckahoe and weekends are best avoided.
The admission fee is $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children.
If your group is over ten persons, they will reduce the fee.
To get the most of this trip, it is wise to ask if any other groups are scheduled on the day of your tour.
On the day of our recent visit, three school buses were unloading as we were leaving.
We heaved a collective sigh of relief that we had gone early.
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