In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, not far from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, is another home of a U.S. President. James Monroe played an important role in the revolutionary period and developing days of the young nation. He spent the winter at Valley Forge, crossed the Delaware, both with George Washington and was injured in another battle of the American Revolution. He would serve as a three time Governor of Virginia. Nationally, he served as a Minister to Spain, Great Britain, and France. His actions while envoy to France would forever change the future of the young U.S. by agreeing to the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon Bonaparte. The U.S. gained a massive amount of land west of the Mississippi river. He would serve as Secretary of State and Secretary of War, the latter during the War of 1812. He achieved the highest political office in the U.S. in 1816 when he was elected the nation’s fifth President. He would serve for two terms. He developed the “Monroe Doctrine” while serving as President.
Monroe bought what was then Highland in 1793. He wanted to be near friends William Short, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. The home would be completed in 1799 and would sit on 200 acres in the Virginia mountains. The front of the original section of the home faces north towards Monticello. It’s unclear whether or not Thomas Jefferson had a hand in the design of Highland. It is known Monroe made several requests to Jefferson for recommendations for the home. Monroe would sell the home and leave Virginia. It is believed it was sold due to Monroe’s personal debt.
The home is owned by the College of William and Mary. He was once a student at the institution. It is listed on the Register of National Historic Places. The home has been refurbished and returned as close to how the home was when President Monroe lived there as possible. There had been additions and renovations made by the owners of the home after Monroe and before the College of William and Mary took control. The home also serves as a working farm for visitors.