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Monticello paranormal

Photo by: Marianne Donley
Location submitted by: sdonley on 07/29/2017
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 1883

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Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, who began designing and building Monticello at age 26 after inheriting land from his father.

931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Charlottesville , VA 22902
Phone: (434) 984-9800
Open to the public: Yes

Lat: 38.0057822
Lon: -78.4523388

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 6
Claims: 9
Evidence: 0
Resources: 1
Retrievals: 7379
Vistor Rating: 0.0
Votes: 0

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

Located just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, in the Piedmont region, the plantation was originally 5,000 acres (20 km2), with Jefferson using slaves for extensive cultivation of tobacco and mixed crops, later shifting from tobacco cultivation to wheat in response to changing markets. Due to its architectural and historic significance, the property has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1987 Monticello and the nearby University of Virginia, also designed by Jefferson, were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current nickel, a United States coin, features a depiction of Monticello on its reverse side.

Jefferson designed the main house using neoclassical design principles described by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and reworking the design through much of his presidency to include design elements popular in late 18th-century Europe and integrating numerous of his own design solutions. Situated on the summit of an 850-foot (260 m)-high peak in the Southwest Mountains south of the Rivanna Gap, the name Monticello derives from the Italian for "little mount". Along a prominent lane adjacent to the house, Mulberry Row, the plantation came to include numerous outbuildings for specialized functions, e.g., a nailery; quarters for domestic slaves; gardens for flowers, produce, and Jefferson's experiments in plant breeding - along with tobacco fields and mixed crops. Cabins for field slaves were farther from the mansion.

At Jefferson's direction, he was buried on the grounds, in an area now designated as the Monticello Cemetery. The cemetery is owned by the Monticello Association, a society of his descendants through Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. After Jefferson's death, his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph sold the property. In 1834 it was bought by Uriah P. Levy, a commodore in the U.S. Navy, who admired Jefferson and spent his own money to preserve the property. His nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy took over the property in 1879; he also invested considerable money to restore and preserve it. In 1923, Monroe Levy sold it to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF), which operates it as a house museum and educational institution.

After Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, his only official surviving daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, inherited Monticello. The estate was encumbered with debt and Martha Randolph had financial problems in her own family because of her husband's mental illness. In 1831 she sold Monticello to James Turner Barclay, a local apothecary. Barclay sold it in 1834 to Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish Commodore (equivalent to today's admiral) in the United States Navy. A fifth-generation American whose family first settled in Savannah, Georgia, Levy greatly admired Jefferson and used his private funds to repair, restore and preserve the house. The Confederate government seized the house as enemy property at the outset of the American Civil War and sold it to Confederate officer Benjamin Franklin Ficklin. Levy's estate recovered the property after the war.

Levy's heirs argued over his estate, but their lawsuits were settled in 1879, when Uriah Levy's nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy, a prominent New York lawyer, real estate and stock speculator (and later member of Congress), bought out the other heirs for $10,050, and took control of Monticello. Like his uncle, Jefferson Levy commissioned repairs, restoration and preservation of the grounds and house, which had been deteriorating seriously while the lawsuits wound their way through the courts in New York and Virginia. Together, the Levys preserved Monticello for nearly 100 years.

In 1923, a private non-profit organization, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, purchased the house from Jefferson Levy with funds raised by Theodore Fred Kuper and others. They managed additional restoration under architects including Fiske Kimball and Milton L. Grigg. Since that time, other restoration has been performed at Monticello.

The Foundation operates Monticello and its grounds as a house museum and educational institution. Visitors can wander the grounds, as well as tour rooms in the cellar and ground floor. More expensive tour pass options include sunset hours, as well as tours of the second floor and the third floor including the iconic dome.

Monticello is a National Historic Landmark. It is the only private home in the United States to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Included in that designation are the original grounds and buildings of Jefferson's University of Virginia. From 1989 to 1992, a team of architects from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the United States created a collection of measured drawings of Monticello. These drawings are held by the Library of Congress.

Among Jefferson's other designs are Poplar Forest, his private retreat near Lynchburg (which he intended for his daughter Maria, who died at age 25); the University of Virginia, and the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.

Added by: sdonley on 07/29/2017 DB#:301


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

When I was a child my family went on few trips, vacations-whatever you want to call then, going away to somewhere you haven't been before.

A couple of times we went to the Arbuckle Mountains in south central Oklahoma. The main attraction there was Turner Falls and really cheap Indian souvenirs. Another time we spent a few days in Hot Springs, Ark. I found out at the same time I was visiting there, another eight-year-old boy lived there by the name of Bill Clinton. Wouldn't it have been funny if I had seen him on the streets and didn't know I was looking at a future president?

Most of the time my mother thought it was foolish and impractical to go anyplace where one of our relatives didn't live. Her idea of fun was sitting in a cousin's living room all afternoon trying to remember who the other cousins married and who among all the relatives would be first to die. Which brings me to the reason why I got to see Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. The father of my mother's favorite cousin whom she visited regularly in Mineral Wells, Texas, died in Virginia. My mother and I joined her cousin in a cross-country car ride to attend the funeral in Charlottesville.

This cut the expenses considerably since the two women could take turns driving, and we didn't have to sleep in a motel. They also packed lots and lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so we wouldn't have to stop at any of those dirty cafes along the way. Because I was good and didn't squirm or whine during the two-hour funeral service, my mother granted me one request, as long as it didn't take us too far out of our way or cost too much. I chose to visit the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello. It was on the outskirts of town and charged a reasonable fee to explore the house and grounds.

One of my less admirable qualities as a little boy was that I tended to let something catch my eye, causing me to wander off without telling anyone where I was going. My defense was that how could I tell my mother where I was going when I didn't know what it was I was going to look at before I got there.

On this particular occasion, I spotted the little graveyard in the distance which contained the remains of Thomas Jefferson himself. The tall granite obelisk looked huge to me, and I knew I had to go investigate it. When I arrived I realized a wrought-iron fence surrounded his tomb. On the monument was a metal plaque. I could read the first part very well.

"Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence.."

I couldn't quite make out the rest of it. If only I could get closer, I reasoned, I'd be able to read the entire inscription, memorize it and quote it to my entire class the next time we had a Show and Tell session. An idea came to me. The space between the iron bars of the fence were spaced wide enough that I could squeeze between them. I turned my shoulders vertically and eased my way through. Now I could read every word on the rest of the plaque.

".Of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom And Father of the University of Virginia."

Moving my lips, I repeated it several times, committing it to memory. Then I realized I must hurry back to the house before my mother blew her gasket because I wandered off again. Trying to pull out I realized I was stuck. It wasn't that I was overly fat, but my mother did have to buy me blue jeans labeled "husky".

I tried turning my shoulders vertical again to slip out of the fence but to no avail. At this point I began to panic, sniveling on the verge of outright bawling.

"Stop that whimpering, young man."

At first I thought an attendant had wandered over and found me in this most unfortunate predicament. It was embarrassing but at least he could help get me out. I looked around, but I saw no one there.

"Now how on earth did you get yourself in this conundrum?"

My head went from side to side, and I tried to look behind myself without much success.

"Oh, in the name of Providence, look in front of you, lad."

When I did focus my eyes straight ahead at the monument I could barely make out a grayish figure. This is when I considered I was having another one of my spectacular dreams. I would wake up in a few minutes and I'd be safe in bed way back in Gainesville, Texas.

"So why did you find it so imperative to squeeze your ample torso through these bars?"

"My mother told me never to talk to strangers." This was a completely random statement to make but I was too scared to think of anything more intelligent.

"Poppycock," the man, whom I now realized was transparent, "You must have studied about me in school. I'm Thomas Jefferson."

"No lie?" Now why I chose this moment to question the integrity of a ghost standing in front of me I have no idea.

"You're thinking of George Washington. He was the one who wasn't supposed to lie but he did. He lied all the time. When you are tall you can get away with lying. I'm tall, and I was a very good liar. But that's all right. You can't run a government and not lie."

At this moment I thought I was going to poop and/or pee in my pants or vomit. I did not know if projectile puke on a national landmark was grounds for a federal indictment or not. When nothing untoward in terms of inappropriate bodily discharge occurred, I decided to ask Mr.

Jefferson for advice. After all, he must have been pretty smart to become President of the United States.

"Can you help me get out of here?" I asked in a whisper.

"No, I am not capable of releasing you. But even if I were I don't think I would help you. You got yourself into this predicament so you have to get yourself out."

"Can you give me a few hints?"

"I suppose you could keep trying to wriggle free. Twist your shoulders more. And for Heaven's sake suck that gut in."

I decided right then that I didn't think Thomas Jefferson was a very nice man. But I continued to twist and contort my back and sucked in my stomach until my face was black and blue. Still no luck.

"Well, the only other thing I can recommend is for you to scream as loud as you can to get some help down here. Do you have family members here?"

"My mother."

"Well, there you have it. I'm sure your mother will be able to find someone to extract you from the bars."

"But that will be so embarrassing."

"Oh, young man, you are beyond embarrassing. If something is not done soon, you could permanently harm your body in some way."

"If this story gets out back home I'll never live it down," I stated in a sorrowful tone.

"Nonsense, no embarrassment lasts forever, and if you're smart enough you can actually learn something."


"Of course. Did you know I never joined the military during the revolution? And when a force of Redcoats marched on Monticello I jumped on my horse and raced away like a scared rabbit."

"No, I never heard that story."

"See," Jefferson replied triumphantly. "History will take care of us if we are earnest in our motives. I would have been a lousy soldier but I could string words together pretty good and wrote encouragement for those who could fight."

"JERRY DAN COWLING! Where the hell are you?"

"Oh God, it's my mother!"

"I hope she's on our side." I sensed fear creeping into Jefferson's voice.

"I'll be right there!" I called out. With one enormous push I extricated myself with such force that I fell backwards on the ground.

"See what fear can do for you? Never be afraid of fear. Mmm, that sounds awkward. I better work on that one."

Jumping up I began running back to the house. Over my shoulder I shouted, "Sorry to have inconvenienced you, Mr. Jefferson!"

"Oh, don't you mind. This is the most fun I've had in a hundred years!"

Added by: sdonley on 11/19/2017 DB#:1324

My husband and I visited there several years ago. We were on a tour with other folks and we stopped in the one room where I believe the tour guide said the children used to play and there was a room used as the nursery. While the tour guide was speaking I felt someone gently bite my left shoulder and my body actually jerked. I actually felt the mouth, teeth, and warm air being exhaled on my shoulder. At first I thought it was my husband goofing off and I spin my head around to look at him. When I looked at him he was simply listening to the tour guide. Afterwards as we were leaving that particular room, I asked him why he bite me on my shoulder. He said that he didn't and I absolutely believed him. I would like to add that the bite I felt didn't hurt and did not leave a mark. I just summed it up to someone wanting to get my attention - which it/he/she did.

Added by: sdonley on 11/19/2017 DB#:1325

When I visited Monticello about 30 years ago the tour group was in the study which has a doorway to Thomas Jefferson's bedroom. While the tour guide was talking, I felt the sensation that a force was trying to either enter or pass through my body. It frightened me and I moved to the back of the room but it followed me. I paced a while and got very anxious before the feeling left me after 5 or 10 seconds. I've never experienced anything like that before or since. I've often thought of going back to Monticello to see if the same thing would happen. Maybe some day I will.

Added by: sdonley on 11/19/2017 DB#:1326

My husband and I were on a guided tour of the home on 9/21/13. We were in the back of the group and as we were exiting Thomas Jefferson's bedroom something lifted a piece of my hair and have it a tug. I told my husband to stop, he gave me a confused look and asked "stop what?" He didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Plus he was on my right side and to the front of me when it happened.

Added by: sdonley on 11/19/2017 DB#:1327

I worked on the curatorial staff back in the early 90's. I'd be in the house until about 11PM, cleaning. I very often had "someone" looking over my shoulder, particularly in the hallway to the right of the Entrance Hall. We would also hear doors slam on the third floor. My grandparents lived on the mountain in the caretaker's cottage (now the business office) until 1970. After my dad was married, he and my mom would visit, and late in the evening could see lights on in the big house, and hear music. As soon as a window was opened to try and hear better, the music stopped, and the lights went out.

Added by: sdonley on 11/19/2017 DB#:1328

Once home to former President Thomas Jefferson, many believe its still haunted by him. Visitors have heard whistling in the gardens, and some have even claimed to have been approached by a gentleman fitting Jefferson's description who asks them what they are doing on the property.

Added by: sdonley on 07/29/2017 DB#:1251

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
2438 07/29/2017 sdonley People have reported seeing the apparition of Jefferson walking the grounds.
2439 07/29/2017 sdonley Employees have claimed to hear music and lights come on late at night.
2440 07/29/2017 sdonley People have heard to hear whistling around the grounds.
2441 07/29/2017 sdonley Employees have reported the feeling of being watched when in the building late at night.
2442 07/29/2017 sdonley People have reported having their hair tugged.
2443 07/29/2017 sdonley People have reported the feeling of something trying to pass through them in Jefferson's bedroom.
2444 07/29/2017 sdonley People have heard something say the word "Baby".
2445 07/29/2017 sdonley People have captured photos of mists in the wine cellar.
2446 07/29/2017 sdonley A person reported being bit during a tour of the main house.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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Additional Resources

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Jefferson's Cemetery and Gravesite Photos
Added: 07/29/2017 By: sdonley
Photos taken the summer of 2017 of Jefferson's Cemetery and Grave site.

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