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Key Info

2050 James Monroe Parkway

Details

Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

Did you know that James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson were neighbors? It's true – and while many travelers delight in learning about Jefferson and his life at Monticello, few realize that 3 miles south is Highland, the home of our fifth president. The original residence was built in 1793, but was destroyed in a fire in the mid-1800s. Though the structure visitors see today is not the original, it still manages to offer a glimpse into the life of Monroe, his family and the enslaved people that resided on his property and maintained the plantation's crops.

Historians say that Monroe enslaved as many as 250 people in his lifetime, despite supporting abolition. During the property's guided tour, you'll learn about some of the individuals forced to work at Highland. The slave quarters on display today are reproductions of the originals, which remained on the site until the 1920s. Travelers can see the recreated quarters and view demonstrations of chores that were part of the daily lives of enslaved people at Highland. As part of an initiative by William & Mary – Monroe's alma mater and the institution charged with maintaining the property – the biographies of the men, women and children enslaved at Highland will soon be presented, along with oral histories of the descendants.

Recent travelers assure you that both houses are worth your notice; Monticello for its grandeur and Highland for its quaintness. Another bonus: this little-heard-of farmhouse rarely contains the stifling crowds of Jefferson's home and features some of the Monroe family's original furnishings. Plus, the admission fee is considerably more reasonable. Though its size makes it more manageable to tour, Highland doesn't offer as much to see as Monticello, according to recent visitors. Travelers said the quality of your experience depends on your guide. Luckily, according to reviewers, many of the guides are incredibly knowledgeable.

Monroe's abode is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to October. From November to March, Highland is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided house tours, which last 35 minutes, are included in the entrance fee. Admission costs $19 for adults and $13 for youths ages 6 to 11; children 5 and younger can visit for free. For more information, visit the home's official website

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