Did you know some of the most prominent presidents, all founding fathers, lived in Virginia? Virginia was the seat of the colonial government and the place where the final battle of the American Revolutionary War took place at Yorktown. It’s no wonder that educated men and landholders who founded the nation lived and prospered during their time in Virginia.
Consider taking a student travel group on a themed tour of the plantations and estates of Virginia presidents. The Virginia presidents’ tour is an exciting way to present Early American presidents to students in social studies or history classes. Engage them in an active learning experience at some of the sites, such as Mount Vernon, where costumed interpreters/actors present history in short narratives.
On this educational tour, students may visit the dwellings of the following presidents, who lived in Virginia: George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon; Thomas Jefferson’s estate where he resided until his death: Monticello near Charlottesville; James Madison’s estate home, in Montpelier between Richmond and Charlottesville; and James Monroe’s former home at Ash Lawn-Highland, known simply as Highland during his time, is adjacent to Monticello in Charlottesville.
Mount Vernon: Estate of George Washington
Mount Vernon is just 16 miles from Washington D.C. George Washington’s plantation sits on the banks of the Potomac River. Student travel groups may tour the main mansion and the outbuildings on the property. A four-acre working farm is part of the tour and includes living history presentations. Student trips interested in the “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets Tour” can learn about the filming of the movie at Mount Vernon and ways in which the basement was actually utilized during Washington’s time. If time allows, visit the The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center to view some of the interactive exhibits.
Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s Home
Student tour groups who travel to Monticello will come to understand one of the greatest figures in American history. Tour groups will see the mansion, designed (and redesigned) by Thomas Jefferson along with gardens and dependencies. Monticello is indeed a special place, where Jefferson’s legacy and his home and its contents are preserved and remembered. It is here that Thomas Jefferson’s epitaph reads “All my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.” Jefferson wanted to be remembered as author of the Constitution, father of the University of Virginia, and author of the statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. Visit http://www.classroom.monticello.org for online educational materials to prepare for the student trip.
James Madison’s Mansion in Charlottesville
James Madison also resided near Charlottesville, at his mansion named Montpelier. Montepelier was recently restored. The plantation is 2,650 acres of gardens, grounds, walking trails and woods. Montepelier was built by James Madison, Sr. in 1764 and modified twice by James Madison Jr. to accommodate the numerous guests of state that would visit after he was elected President. In addition to James and Dolly Madison and their children, slaves and freedmen lived and worked at Montpelier until emancipation. Students will learn about the rich history of Montpelier, and view the growing collection of artifacts.
Learn About James Monroe’s Mansion in Charlottesville
Ash Lawn-Highland was James Monroe’s estate in Charlottesville and it is currently a museum as well as a 535-acre working farm, and a performing arts center. The Monroe estate is adjacent to Monticello. Jefferson was a lifelong friend of James Monroe. The Monroe family, which included his wife, Elizabeth, his son James Spence Monroe, and his daughter, Eliza lived at Highland estate for 24 years. James Monroe fought under George Washington at the Battle of Trenton and spent the cold winter at Valley Forge. He later distinguished himself as a diplomat to France, Britain, and Spain, and as the Secretary of State and Secretary of War for James Madison’s administration, during the War of 1812. Monroe was instrumental in negotiating a final treaty for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and is known for the Monroe Doctrine. Student groups who visit Ash Lawn-Highland will see that it is still being partially used as a residence. Monroe bequeathed his estate to his alma mater, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg whose alumni use it as a retreat even today.
A tour of Washington D.C. can be greatly enhanced with an itinerary that includes the homes of Virginia presidents. These intimate spaces illustrate what it might have been like to live in Early America during a time when democracy was at its formative stages. To request a quote on a student tour of Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the presidential homes in Virginia email firstname.lastname@example.org or Request a quote.