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Poplar Forest, 1930

Former owner:
Jefferson, Thomas 1743-1826
Jefferson, Martha Wayles Skelton 1748-1782
Former owners:
Hutter family
Watts, James O., Jr. Mr. Mrs.
Physical description:
1 folder+ 3 lantern slides
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, Virginia, Bedford County, Forest
Poplar Forest (Forest, Virginia)
Situated between Lynchburg and Bedford, Virginia, Poplar Forest was a nearly 5,000-acre plantation inherited by Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson from her father, John Wayles, in 1773. Martha Jefferson died in 1782, and it was only in 1806 that Thomas Jefferson began to design and build the Palladian-influenced house and gardens that still exist today. Serving as a retirement retreat during Jefferson's lifetime, the property was sold in 1828, two years after his death. It remained in private ownership until 1983, when a nonprofit corporation acquired it and began a process of archaeological and documentary research leading to its ongoing restoration. Jefferson's landscape design featured a circular road lined by paper mulberry trees, earthen mounds flanking the house, oval shrub beds, and a sunken lawn. Native trees, such as the tulip poplars from which the property takes its name (several of which survive from Jefferson's time), were planted throughout the grounds. The three images in the Archives of American Gardens' collection document the property at the time when it was still a private residence owned by the Hutter family and somewhat altered from Jefferson's original design. In addition, land sales over the years have reduced the size of the property to a mere fraction of its original size.
Persons associated with the property include Thomas Jefferson (architect, landscape architect, former owner, 1773-1826); Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (former owner, 1773-1782); the Hutter family (former owners, ca. 1828-1946); and Mr. and Mrs. James O. Watts, Jr. (former owners, 1946-1983).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles about the site, site plans, brochures, and additional information about the house and garden.
Garden has been featured in Alice G. B. Lockwood, Gardens of Colony and State (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons for the Garden Club of America, 1934), p. 74
Garden has been featured in Frieda Meredith Dietz, Photographic Studies of Old Virginia Homes & Gardens (Richmond: Dietz Press, 1953), p. 61
Garden has been featured in Frances Archer Christian, Susanne Williams Massie, et al., Homes and Gardens in Old Virginia (Richmond: Garret and Massie, 1962), pp. 499-501
Garden has been featured in Roger G. Kennedy, "Poplar Forest--Jefferson's Quest for a True American Architecture," Architectural Digest, May 1992, pp. 24-30
Garden has been featured in Ken Ringle, "The Genius of Poplar Forest," The Washington Post, November 5, 1992, p. 14+
Garden has been featured in Wayne Fields, "Jefferson's Second Home," American Heritage, Vol. 44, No. 2 (April 1993), pp.104-113
Garden has been featured in Dale Mackenzie Brown, "Jefferson's Other Home," House Beautiful, Vol. 139, No. 12 (December 1997), pp. 48-50+
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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