Historic Marker at Shadwell

Shadwell Farm View Interactive Version ]

In 1740, Peter Jefferson (February 29, 1707/08-1757), a successful planter and surveyor, began to develop the 1,400-acre tract along the Rivanna River he had acquired in order to establish a tobacco plantation. Although Thomas Jefferson, Peter's third child and eldest son, was born here in 1743, he spent much of his childhood and early adulthood away, first with his family at Tuckahoe Plantation, then at schools in Goochland and Albemarle Counties, and finally in Williamsburg where he attended the College of William and Mary and studied law under George Wythe.

Peter Jefferson died in 1757. Upon coming of age in 1764, Jefferson inherited the Shadwell estate, which included the small mountain to the west that he and his friend and classmate, Dabney Carr, were able to explore on visits from school. Jefferson returned to Albemarle in 1767 and established himself as a lawyer. Though his new practice kept him traveling, he began to create plans to build a house on the small mountain that he named "Monticello." On February 1, 1770, a fire destroyed the Shadwell plantation house, and Jefferson moved himself to the mountaintop, where the South Pavilion was already standing. A substantial, but smaller dwelling was constructed for Jefferson's mother and his siblings at Shadwell, which then became part of the Monticello Plantation.

In 1813 Jefferson deeded 775 acres at Shadwell to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph.

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