He started building Monticello in 1769.
Were it not for Jefferson, Charlottesville would be an unremarkable place — but thanks to him, it is anything but. Within a short drive of Jefferson’s home lie two other presidential estates — those of James Madison and James Monroe, both Jefferson proteges. Downtown, life is centered on the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded a decade after his presidency, in 1819. Around Charlottesville, the rural landscape is dotted with wineries, which may also owe their existence to Jefferson, who developed a taste for wine while living in France in the 1780s and traveling extensively throughout Europe.