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“More of Mr. J's Octagons”

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 16, 2012

If you're a Jeferson Geek like me, you can't miss his Poplar Forest "hideout" used when he needed to escape the minions seeking his attention.

The location is every bit as beautiful as Monticello (He sure knew how to pick'em) and the house is as intimate as Monticello is formal. It's an octagon, of course, as are the privies; perfectly proportioned inside and out with a surprising 20ft cubical dining room in the center. The interior is still heavily involved with restoration and without much furniture but I enjoyed seeing the innards of period construction. The basement houses an extensive exhbit of the restoration and archaeology. Admission is charged for the tour of the living level of the house. No charge for the basement exhibit, grounds/garden and "office" wing (kitchen, laundry, etc.)

1542 Bateman Bridge Road, Forest, VA
About 80mi (1.5hr) from Montecello near Lynchburg, VA. NOTE: Poplar Forest is not a quick jump from the interstate (I81) but, because of this, it's not crowded. It can be tricky to find without a GPS, however. Also some routes to/from will take you via VERY windy roads over the Blue Ridge (which can be fun....for about 10 min). Of course, if you're coming/going from the Blue ridge Parkway, you like windy roads :-). Don't be confused by the entrance to the Poplar Forest Golf Course which is part of the estate on the same road about 1/4 mile from the (long) driveway to the house (wonder what Jefferson's handicap was). Anyhow, it's well worth the trip.

Happy travels !

3  Thank aradioman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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240 - 244 of 291 reviews

Reviewed October 15, 2012

enjoyed looking at the house, but i was very disappointed that there was NO furniture at all in the house. I was expecting it to be like Monticello, or Point of Honor, where they had furniture from that period, but nothing was in there!! A little frustrating since they say they've been "restoring the place since 1987" well where is the furniture then????? Plus, you have to pay to get in, and to park. Seems with all that money they could afford to at least put some furniture in the house for guests to view.

Thank brandinicole21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.
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.

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