Researchers revise history of Monroe's estate

This actually wasn't the main house at Highland, after all.
This actually wasn't the main house at Highland, after all.
Image: StudyHall.Rocks.
For years, tour guides have been showing history buffs around the modest home of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States. And for years, the tour guides were wrong.

    As it turns out, that modest wooden home once identified as Highland was probably the president’s guest house, according to a William & Mary news release. Researchers believe a newly discovered foundation on the land was the home where Monroe and his family lived, beginning in November 1799. William & Mary owns the Monroe property, which is near Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Virginia. 
    A teenage soldier during the Revolutionary War, Monroe (1758-1831) went on to become a U.S. senator, minister to France and president from 1817 to 1825.
    The house still standing is small and attached to a larger structure added in the 1870s. Researchers found the remains of what they now believe to be Monroe’s house in the front yard of the 1870s wing.
    The new foundation was described as “a freestanding and sizeable house,” by the William & Mary news release. Researchers found “part of the base of a large chimney preserved below the floor level, several sections of stone wall foundations, segments of thicker walls belonging to a stone cellar now filled with brick rubble, and charred planks, likely pointing to the destruction of the building by fire.”
    As part of the work, researchers used dendrochronology, a process that involves dating historic wood through tree rings. They discovered that the modest building that tour guides have been showing as Monroe’s house dates to 1818, not 1799 as previously thought. The house where the Monroe family lived probably burned in the 1800s.  
    Tours of the estate will be different from now on, according to the college. The announcement was dated April 28 -- Monroe's birthday. “Highland” was the name for the property used by Monroe and the name currently used by the estate. In the past, the home also was known as Ash-Lawn Highland, a name given to the property by an owner after Monroe's time.


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