Houses Often Changed Over Time

This is a model of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, as it was when he drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was about half the size of the famous domed house seen today. It changed significantly during Jefferson’s lifetime. Many historic houses have changed over time.

The redesign and expansion of Monticello occurred after Jefferson had served as Ambassador to France. While residing in Paris, he had the opportunity to study the latest developments in architecture, including construction of a wood-framed dome over a public market building, planting the seed for one of Monticello’s most recognizable features.

The people who built and rebuilt Monticello included white and black craftspeople, many enslaved. The brick making operation for the expansion was overseen by a white woman when her brickmaker husband died during the project. The house today should be seen today as much a monument to these people as to Jefferson.

Changes made over time may be considered historically significant. Monticello’s rebuilding certainly is, having been designed by the original owner/architect and done under his direction. For less famous and more modest houses, changes made over 100 or 200 years need to analyzed and understood to determine what is significant.

How to do this is explored in Chapter 2 of Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners. The 720-page award-winning and best-selling hardcover book is available in bookstores and from online retailers (it is currently 34% off on Amazon! http://ow.ly/N7ba50y4PSL).

Signed copies are available from the author on this site, click here: https://yourhistorichouse.com/shop/.

Your local bookstore can order copies from W.W. Norton.

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