Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “History by apprising (people) of the past will enable them to judge of the future.” He was a firm believer that in order for society to improve and evolve, people must be educated. They must learn about history so as to not repeat past mistakes, and they must learn to think for themselves. Jefferson—founding father, third President of the United States, and renaissance man—had a retreat home in Bedford County called Poplar Forest, where he would go to think, study and read. So why not celebrate Presidents’ Day in Lynchburg this year by learning about one of the most influential founding fathers of our nation?
A Site of Living History
Poplar Forest was a plantation home designed by Jefferson himself, who was an avid architecture enthusiast, among other things. He built it in an octagonal shape, and envisioned that it would be “the best dwelling house in the state”. The grounds are also beautiful to experience, with gardens and woodlands all preserved or recreated as they were in Jefferson’s time, according to the careful oversight of Poplar Forest officials. The site is a National Historic Landmark, so great care has been taken to maintain it for the sake of the public.
Visitors can observe historical artifacts and learn about the time period when Jefferson used Poplar Forest. Also, tours are available for individuals and groups alike. If you come at special times listed on their event calendar, you can enjoy historian talks, reenactments, celebrations and more. This is a great opportunity to learn from renowned historians and hear stories about everything from high society of the time to the experiences of the slave population at Poplar Forest.
One of the most exciting parts about visiting Poplar Forest is being able to witness the ongoing discovery of this old plantation home. With active dig sites and reconstruction occurring on the grounds according to historical evidence, there will always be something new to learn about Poplar Forest and the man who created it. Visitors can learn about Jefferson’s plans and the official documentation of Poplar Forest. Then they can compare what was written to what was actually done, as the two were not always the same at Poplar Forest. With these ideas in mind, along with the facts and expert opinions provided to them, visitors will be encouraged to put the pieces together themselves and gain a more complete idea about who Jefferson was and about his sphere of influence.
Poplar Forest is open daily March 15-December 30, but from January 18-March 14, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays for Winter Weekends. Special events, talks, exploration opportunities and exhibitions of Poplar Forest activities will be available so that guests can immerse themselves in this historical experience. So join us in celebrating President’s Day with an exciting trip to one of the Lynchburg area’s most important historic landmarks!
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is located at 1542 Bateman Bridge Road.