Ash Lawn, A Charlottesville Historic Home
Ash Lawn-Highland, the historic home of James Monroe, is notable among several historic homes in Charlottesville that are in close proximity to the University of Virginia and our celebrated Historic Downtown Mall. Ash Lawn was Monroe’s Albemarle County plantation adjacent to President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the most famous among the Charlottesville historic homes visited by residents and tourists throughout the year.
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States and the last president among the Founding Fathers of our great nation. His proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, a landmark contribution to American foreign policy, was a bold move, as it clearly stated that the United States would not tolerate European intervention in the affairs of the Americas.
From a Charlottesville real estate perspective, however, President Monroe was significant because he made his home at Ash Lawn-Highland, which is now an historic house museum and one of the most celebrated Charlottesville historic homes.
“Charlottesville Va Real Estate” Spotlight: Cville Resident James Monroe
Born in 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, James Monroe studied at the College of William and Mary before enlisting in the Third Virginia Regiment in 1776. Later that year, Monroe accompanied General George Washington when he and his troops crossed the Delaware River. Monroe was wounded at the Battle of Trenton fighting Hessians, survived the harsh winter at Valley Forge, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring to civilian life.
Returning to Williamsburg, Virginia, to study law, Monroe became friends with his lifelong mentor (fellow president, founding father, and eventual Charlottesville real estate neighbor), then Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson. President Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright in 1786 and had three children: Eliza, James Spence, and Maria Hester Monroe.
President Monroe and his family officially resided in their historic Charlottesville home from 1793 until 1823. The family simply called their home “Highland;” and the name “Ash Lawn” was not used for the plantation until after his death in 1831.
Escalating personal debts forced Monroe to sell his beloved plantation in 1825. Ironically enough, Monroe later died in New York City on July 4, 1831, the third president in a row who died on Independence Day. In fact, Monroe died exactly five years after the deaths of Presidents Jefferson and Adams.
Ash Lawn Today: A “Charlottesville Historic Homes” Point of Interest
Today Ash Lawn is a working farm of more than 500 acres that also offers live, outdoor and performing arts events right here in Albemarle County. The estate is now owned, operated, and maintained by Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary.
For house tours, school tours, workshops, educational materials, and other information, visit www.ashlawnhighland.org.