Mr Jeffersons LandKeswick Hall Resort

By: Carol Sorgen

I’ve visited Charlottesville, home of our third president, several times over the years and never tire of the countryside that seems untouched by the passage of time. But I also enjoy the sophistication that accompanies a university town (Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia), with its restaurants, boutiques, bookstores, and increasingly, a number of well-regarded wineries.

There are any number of choices for lodging in Charlottesville, from bed and breakfasts to modern motels and hotels. On my last visit, however, I decided to spend a few days being pampered at the beautiful Keswick Hall, close to downtown Charlottesville and just a few minutes’ drive from Monticello.

Originally built as a private home in 1912 and known as Villa Crawford, Keswick Hall is a beautiful example of Italianate architecture, and you could just as easily think you were in Italy as in Virginia. The hotel is situated on 600 acres, and has an 18-hole golf course, three pools — including a spectacular infinity pool that looks over the grounds of the estate — five tennis courts, a fitness center with spa, and various dining options, including the recently opened restaurant, Fossett’s. There are plenty of cozy spots throughout Keswick to sit back and enjoy the wood-burning fireplaces, order lunch in one of the public rooms, or take afternoon tea, served every day from 3 to 5 p.m. (and well worth the extra calories).

I especially enjoyed the library, which is housed on the main floor of the hotel, and contains a collection of more than 400 books by Virginians or about Virginia, covering a wide range of topics from history to memoirs, photography, cookbooks, nature, and fiction. Authors John Grisham and Rita Mae Brown, who live nearby, are represented in the library. You can enjoy any of the books in the library or take them back to your room.

Every room in the hotel is decorated individually with a mix of antiques and furniture and decorative objects that reflect the life of the Virginia countryside. My room was on the first floor, just steps off the reception area (which was more like a very comfortable living room than a hotel lobby). The room was beautifully furnished, with a four-poster bed, antique armoire for my clothes, a small writing desk with books on a shelf above, and a large bathroom with all the modern amenities. French doors led to a terrace that overlooked the rolling hills of the estate.

Having arrived at Keswick late in the afternoon, I took a short stroll around the grounds, and then enjoyed tea — complete with scones, clotted cream, preserves, and pastries — in the music room adjacent to the library. After a rest in my room, it was, of course, time for dinner (you wouldn’t think I would have needed dinner after the tea, but isn’t that what vacation is for?). We stayed on the estate that evening, dining in the hotel’s sophisticated restaurant, Fossett’s. The striking table settings, coolly elegant flower arrangements, and floor-to-ceiling windows are only part of Fossett’s appeal. The food was also delicious. I had the rack of lamb, one of my favorites, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The next morning we headed off for a tour of Monticello. Only the first floor of the presidential home is open to the public, but the well-informed docents can answer virtually any question you may have about the house, President Jefferson, or his family. It had been some years since I’d visited Monticello and I found I was as captivated as I had been the first time to think of the intellect, talent, and unbounded curiosity just one person could possess.

Jefferson began clearing the land for Monticello and leveling the mountaintop in 1768, when he was just 25 years old. The building of the house began in 1769. For more than 40 years, Jefferson was constantly involved with the construction and enlargement of the home. He sketched the drawings for the first house himselfPsychology Articles, based on what he had learned from architecture books published in England.

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