Historical Significance

Highland was the plantation home of the fifth president of the United states, James Monroe, for a quarter of a century. Purchased in 1793, at the entreaty of Thomas Jefferson who wished to "create a society to our taste," Highland was the primary residence for Monroe, his wife Eliza, and daughters Eliza and Maria Hester. Monroe had many achievements as a public servant - not only as President, but also as a foreign minister, Virginia governor, Senator, Secretary of State, and Secretary of War.

Highland was a working plantation. During Monroe's ownership, thirty to forty enslaved individuals lived and labored on the grounds. In the stone kitchen cellar, enslaved women, skilled in the art of cooking, prepared meals for the family. To the south of the house is the service yard. Enslaved African Americans toiled there, in the vegetable garden, and in the surrounding tobacco and grain fields. Thanks to archaeology, a Monroe letter, and a 1908 photo, the reconstructed three-room slave quarters again dominate the service yard. An overseer's cottage, possibly the oldest surviving outbuilding on the farm, stands next to the slave quarters.

Physical Description

Highland sits on 535 acres of Albemarle County property. Furnished with Monroe and period pieces, the Monroe house reflects the tastes of a Virginia gentleman with European ambassadorships. The service yard includes slave quarters, overseer's cabin, well, smokehouse, ice house, and sheds for sheep, chickens, and peacocks. Century-old boxwood gardens complement ornamental and culinary plantings.

Geographical and Contact Information

1000 James Monroe Parkway
Charlottesville, Virginia
Phone: 434-293-9539
Fax: 434-293-8000


Ash Lawn Highland

Ash Lawn Highland

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Ash Lawn Highland

Ash Lawn Highland

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Slave Quarters and Overseer Cottage

Slave Quarters and Overseer Cottage

Source: Flickr user: mattdailey View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Highland,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed May 23, 2019, http://www.aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/28.

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