When a historic building gets remodeled, the process involves construction workers, historic preservationists, architects, and archaeologists. It was not always so. You never know what you might find, but the professionals working on restoring Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello had an idea of what they might find, and they did -the room where Sally Hemings lived. Hemings, a slave, was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife who became his mistress after Martha Jefferson died -and bore six children. Hemings' windowless room was next to Jefferson's, but was converted into a men's restroom in 1941 and now has been uncovered to reveal the original floor, hearth, and fireplace.
“For the first time at Monticello we have a physical space dedicated to Sally Hemings and her life,” Mia Magruder Dammann, a spokeswoman for Monticello, told NBCBLK. “It’s significant because it connects the entire African American arch at Monticello.”
By the late 1960s, Magruder said, the earlier bathrooms had become too small to accommodate Monticello’s growing number of visitors so local restoration architect Floyd Johnson renovated and enlarged the bathrooms in 1967.
But recently, historians studied a description provided long ago by a grandson of Jefferson who placed Hemings’ room in the home’s South Wing.
The current restoration project is an attempt to bring Monticello back to its original state when Jefferson lived there, including the relics of his slaves that were ignored or covered up previously. Read more about Hemings and the restoration of Monticello at NBC News. -via Atlas Obscura
(Image credit: YF12s)