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“Fascinating reconstruction of his retreat”

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in Forest
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Poplar Forest is Thomas Jefferson's personal retreat and plantation located in Forest, Virginia. It is one of only two homes that Mr. Jefferson designed and built for his own use.
Reviewed October 5, 2012

Although this is less dramatic (and certainly smaller at 2000 sq.ft.) than Monticello, Poplar Forest has elegant proportions and unusual features. The octagonal dining room, centerpiece of the house, shows Jefferson's architectural ingenuity. Museum displays in the basement of the house offer more insight into the construction of Poplar Forest and life there for the widowed President and his grandchildren, who often visited here. Our guide was very knowledgeable and pleasant, patiently answering all the questions we threw at her.
Don't expect to see much original detail. A fire in 1845 burned everything but the brickwork. But the restoration is using only methods available at the time it was built in 1806 to reproduce fireplaces, plaster walls, millwork (hand-planed), windowpanes, etc. according to Jefferson's original design. The gardens and interior are painstaking works-in-progress, so another visit next year would offer more to see.

Thank Draftcross
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 30, 2012

Poplar Forest was in private hands until fairly recently. The home was occupied by many families over the past two centuries and underwent many changes long before historic preservation came into vogue. Restoration is still a work in progress and in many places the original fabric of the house is still in plain view. This is not necessarily bad. I found the partial restoration fascinating. We visited on a Sunday, but we were told that on weekdays crews of woodworkers, stone masons, etc. are on the job, even as tour groups step around them. I'd like to return on a weekday.
This is not exactly living history per se because there were no costumed interpreters, but our "plainclothes" guide was outstanding. In fact, everything was very nicely done...enjoyable and educational. Highly recommended to any armchair historian.
When not part of a tour group one may wander at will around the grounds. Entry fee includes use of a handheld GPS device that talks to you as you wander. A nice touch, though the interactive screen is pretty useless in bright sunlight.
We took advantage of a combination ticket good for admission to the D-Day Memorial in nearby Bedford.
Speaking of GPS, mine did not recognize 1542 Bateman Bridge Road which the Poplar Forest website gave as its address. Fortunately, TomTom recognized Poplar Forest as a destination and took us right to the front door (which turned out to be at 1567 Foxhall Drive!). Bateman Bridge Road, if it exists, was not in sight.

1  Thank Itinerant65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2012 via mobile

When i went the property was going thru renovations to put the property and the house back to the way it was when Jefferson stayed there.

Thank klay36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2012

I lived in the area most of my life and never visited Poplar Forest until this year when I was home visiting family. Jefferson designed and personally supervised the building of Poplar Forest and was his summer retreat. The hour-long tour was full of information and the tour guide was well versed -- wisI just wish our guided hadn't hurried us so much. The out buildings and grounds were interesting to view. While the home and grounds are still being restored to the original splendor they offer a different prespective to Thomas Jefferson than what you see at Monticello in Charlottesville VA.

1  Thank Redheadedwitchywoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2012

This site has something for everyone, American history buffs. Historic preservation folks and gardeners. And of course, those who are fans of Thomas Jefferson, this is a very special part of his life after the presidency. A bit hard to find, but stick with it. New orientation cneter is pretty basic, but like the rest of the site, it is a work in progress. The video tour devices don't seem to add much to the visit though. Very nice and well informed staff.

Thank Tim L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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