Studio 360

American Icons: Monticello

This is the home of America’s aspirations and its deepest contradictions.

Listen to this episode of Studio 360 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

Monticello is home renovation run amok. Thomas Jefferson was as passionate about building his Virginia house as he was about founding the United States. He designed Monticello to the fraction of an inch and never stopped changing it. Yet, Monticello was also a plantation worked by slaves, some of them Jefferson’s own children. Today his white and black descendants still battle over who can be buried at Monticello. With Stephen Colbert, filmmaker James Ivory, and artist Maira Kalman.

Monticello Update:
The slave quarters at Monticello—including what was likely Sally Hemings’ room—have been turned into a new exhibit that grapples with issues Monticello has largely ignored for decades. Monticello will also be phasing out the traditional “house tour,” which focused on Jefferson’s accomplishments with little mention of slavery.

American Icons: Monticello was produced by Amanda Aronczyk. The Jefferson family graveyard story was produced by Ann Heppermann. The actor David Strathairn was the voice of Thomas Jefferson. David Krasnow edited the show.

Music was provided by David Prior, with John Matthias for Small Design Firm, and can also be heard at Monticello’s interactive exhibition, “Boisterous Sea of Liberty.”

American Icons is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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