Poplar Forest

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“The best dwelling house in the state” is how Thomas Jefferson described his Bedford County hermitage of Poplar Forest. Begun in 1806 on land inherited from his wife, and completed by his death in 1826, this unique work demonstrates Jefferson’s fascination with octagons. Its form is octagonal, three major rooms are elongated octagons, and the privies, tucked behind earthen mounds, are miniature domed octagons. The house at Poplar Forest was set in an elaborate villa landscape at the heart of a 4800-acre plantation. Jefferson escaped the bustle of Monticello by visiting Poplar Forest several times a year. Here he found the peace to think, to study, and to read. Following a fire in 1845, the house was rebuilt within its walls. It remained a private residence until the 1980s. In 1984 it was purchased by the Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, which oversaw a meticulous restoration to Jefferson’s original design.

Last Updated: June 19, 2024

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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