The state of Virginia was the birthplace to eight United States’ Presidents, most of whom served their terms in the early days of the new republic. Most of those homes are on display today, so here is a guide to the birthplace of the Presidents.
George Washington: Presidency: (1st, 1789-1797)
Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon
The riverside estate of George Washington now includes the Ford Orientation Centre and Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Centre, new facilities with 25 galleries and theatres, more than 700 artefacts, and interactive displays that introduce visitors to the real George Washington. The most famous dentures in the world are on display, along with three life-size models of Washington created from a forensic investigation. The historic area features the restored Mansion, original outbuildings, the tomb where the Washingtons are buried, beautiful gardens, and heritage breed animals who work at a four-acre farm site near the river. George Washington’s Distillery is now open April through October, and is located adjacent to the Gristmill.
Thomas Jefferson: Presidency: (3rd, 1801-1809)
Monticello, 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottsville
No other home in the United States more accurately reflects the personality of its owner than Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece and beloved mountaintop home. Guided tours of the house are offered daily throughout the year; outdoor gardens and plantation tours are offered daily April-October. Children under 6 are free. Reduced rates for adult and student groups are available. HOURS: Hours vary throughout the year.
James Madison: (4th, 1809-1817)
Montpelier, 11407 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station
Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and president of the United States. Now that the home’s architectural restoration is complete, visitors can see the progress of rediscovering James and Dolley Madison through the “Presidential Detective Story” with guided house tours, as well as a myriad of special “behind the scenes” experiences. They can also stroll the garden and forest; and take in the galleries, hands-on activities, and many other attractions on the estate’s 2,650 acres. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Montpelier is located in the heart of Virginia’s wine country on Route 20, four miles south of Orange, Virginia. Montpelier is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site administered by The Montpelier Foundation.
James Monroe: (5th, 1817-1825)
Ash Lawn-Highland, 1000 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottsville
In 1799, James Monroe and his family moved into their Albemarle “cabin castle,” adjacent to Jefferson’s Monticello. Jefferson had previously urged Monroe to move to the area to create a “society to our taste”. Today, visitors can tour the fifth president’s home, which was recently refurbished based on new research and inventory lists. Original and period French and American furniture, boxwood gardens, and a 535-acre working farm await visitors. Reconstructed using archaeology and a 1908 photograph, the slave quarters stands alongside two original outbuildings. Throughout the year there are many special events such as the Virginia Wine Festival, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Plantation Days, and Christmas festivities.
William Henry Harrison: (9th, 1841)
Berkeley Plantation, 12602 Harrison Landing Road, Charles City
Berkeley is Virginia’s most historic plantation. Visit the site of the first official Thanksgiving (1619). See the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President William Henry Harrison, the nation’s ninth president, whose grandson Benjamin became the 23rd president. Envision Lincoln reviewing 140,000 Union troops. Hear “Taps” (composed here in 1862). An architectural gem, the elegant 1726 Georgian mansion is furnished with rare period antiques. Five terraces of restored boxwood and flower gardens overlook farmlands and offer breathtaking vistas of the James River. Audio-visual program. Museum. Gift Shop. Costumed guides conduct tours daily. A Virginia and National Historic Landmark.
John Tyler: (10th, 1841-1845)
Sherwood Forest Plantation, 14501 John Tyler Memorial Highway, Charles City
Sherwood Forest was the home of John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States (1841-45). The plantation buildings, ca 1680 to 1850, have been in constant use. Nine surviving dependencies supported the operation of the President’s 1,600 acre working plantation and constitute one of the most complete plantation yards in America. A self-guided tour over the 28 acres grounds notes some of the 35 non-native species of trees planted by the former president, including America’s first Ginkgo tree which was a gift from Commodore Matthew C. Perry after President Tyler reopened the Oriental trade routes in the mid-1800s. House tours are available by appointment only.
Zachary Taylor: (12th, 1849-1850)
Home not on display.
Woodrow Wilson: (28th, 1913-1921)
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, 18 North Coalter Street, Staunton
Enjoy an engaging tour of President Wilson’s birthplace, a beautiful pre-Civil War manse. Explore the Woodrow Wilson Museum and discover his inspiring story as professor, president, and peacemaker. Immerse yourself in the new state-of-the-art interactive World War I trench exhibit complete with lights and sound to experience what life was like for soldiers as they engaged in battle. See authentic weapons as you retrace the unforgettable story of the doughboys. Children will especially enjoy the interactive Kids’ Corner, seeing Wilson’s Pierce-Arrow limousine, and strolling through the boxwood garden.