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  • Monticello

    I have just returned from a scientific conference at University of Virginia and had the exceptional fortune to tour the house of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. I know this is a little off topic, but I was so completely overwhelmed by all the astounding craftsmanship of the house. Imagine being in the 1770's and having "Joiners" (as they were called) manufacture all the trim and accents, some of the furniture, and all the buildings in general on site from wood aquired on the property. While most people were interested in the general history of the place, I pulled aside a tour guide (ready for the next tour, but willing to talk woodworking) and drilled him on the building process and origin of the lumber. Did you people know that the very first parquay floor in America was built on this property by craftsmen that lived almost 300 years ago? The damn joints are still tight!

    I wish I could have spent another 5 or 6 hours in the house.....taking pictures and formulating ideas. As it goes, I have several outstanding pics of the Madison bedroom and the furniture in it that I am going to try and reproduce the armouir for my own bedroom.

    Anyhow, please excuse my enthusiasm. I was just so completely impressed I had to convey it to you all.

    Best Regards,
    Z
    “Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one less scoundrel in the world.” —Thomas Carlyle

  • #2
    Re: Monticello

    I'm jealous zenophus, wish I could have been there with you. I can also spend hours upon hours looking at the fine details of old houses and buildings. And the wood back then were all old growth, makes there work last longer. Why don't you show off some of those few pictures you took, that would be cool.
    Great Link for a Construction Owner/Tradesmen, and just say Garager sent you....

    http://www.contractorspub.com

    A good climbing rope will last you 3 to 5 years, a bad climbing rope will last you a life time !!!

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    • #3
      Re: Monticello

      It really would be great to see those pics, Zeno. I'd love to be able to go through Monticello. I'm not even that far away....*sigh*
      I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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      • #4
        Re: Monticello

        Touring just about any 200+ year old house will astound many a woodworker.

        Years ago I visited Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and could have spent at least a week looking over the shoulders of the shipwrights. It was amazing what they could do with wood and hand tools. Strawberry Bank in Portsmouth NH is another smaller shipbuilding facility as well as a large restoration area for early 19th century homes.

        Down here in Southwest Florida, we have a few restored "cracker" homes and villages and the former religious community of the Koreshans, a sect that built homes and furniture similar to the Shakers. (this sect is not the one formed by David Koresh and known by its activity in Waco Texas)

        I am sure that there are similar sites in many areas of our great country, especially along the eastern seaboard as these were the first settled areas and will have older homes.

        Visiting these sites will give a woodworker a new appreciation for his/her craft (or hobby) and knowledge of the history and application of joinery.

        If you can volunteer and become a docent or reenactor at these types of sites you will not only learn more yourself but can pass on your appreciation for the art and your skills to future generations.
        Last edited by billmoy; 05-10-2007, 09:09 AM. Reason: Misspelled word

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        • #5
          Re: Monticello

          I've been to Monticello 10-12 times, and am still astounded and humbled by the place. So many first, so much detail. Just spending time in the gardens is an amazing experience. The guy was a genius. (My wife swiped a tomato, and we planted the seeds. Aside from the ugly appearance, they were the best tomatos we've ever had. Unfortunately, they didn't grow the second year.)

          Along with Mystic Seaport, is the Wooden Boat magazine's shop up in Maine. I spent a rainy Sunday there many years back, and can still smell the place in my mind. I'd love to live there if it weren't for the ten months of winter.
          Steve
          www.MorrisGarage.com

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          • #6
            Re: Monticello

            I too have been there.

            Makes what most of us do look like childs play doesn't it

            A lot of true craftsmanship in that place.

            Regards,

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            • #7
              Re: Monticello

              Unfortunately, I had to take in a disposable film camera (since photography is forbidden, my digital was too obvious). So I have hard copies only but I will try and get them scanned. I'd be damned if I was going to miss a chance to take pics inside the house, so I lagged behind the tour and took a whole role before the tour was over.
              “Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one less scoundrel in the world.” —Thomas Carlyle

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              • #8
                Re: Monticello

                Last year while visiting Hawaii we went through Queen Emma’s summer palace in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. In the distant past I had worked on that island for the sugar industry, but that’s another story. The palace is stocked with many of the original pieces of furniture. They, along with the door and window frames and flooring are amazing pieces of craftsmanship. Wood used was teak, monkeypod, sandalwood or some other indigenous wood that the people with me didn’t recognize. The work was done by craftsmen over several years in the mid 1800’s imported from Italy for the job. (I bet this job wasn’t too hard to recruit for.) The curator let me have the run of the place so I could feel and admire everything. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is absolutely amazing. All hand tools, of course. I bet there are no craftsmen alive today that could even come close to duplicating work like that. If you ever get a chance, don’t miss it. You can see beaches, lava, and mundane stuff like that anywhere but rarely can you see such wonderful wood work.

                Blind Bill

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