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Friends, Neighbors, Presidents: The World of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe

Program Number: 2007RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/11/2015 - 10/16/2015; 3/20/2016 - 3/25/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/8/2016; 4/17/2016 - 4/22/2016; 5/1/2016 - 5/6/2016; 5/15/2016 - 5/20/2016; 6/5/2016 - 6/10/2016; 8/28/2016 - 9/2/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016; 10/9/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/30/2016 - 11/4/2016; 12/4/2016 - 12/9/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Price starting at: $849.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Discover the world of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, and his friends and neighbors, James Monroe and James Madison. Recall the lives and times of these great men and the nation they helped forge through lectures examining their friendships, political careers, personal lives and philosophies, as well as Federal-era architecture and society.


• Experience the presidents’ historic homes — Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, Madison’s Montpelier, and Jefferson’s magnificent Monticello — on field trips.
• Enjoy lunch at historic Michie Tavern and learn about the rich history of this hub of social activity.
• With an expert leader, see Jefferson's "Academical Village," walking through the UVA Grounds and by the impressive Rotunda.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles daily.

You may enjoy a three-night version of this program, “Three Friends: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe” (#9113).

Date Specific Information

10-11-2015, 3-20-2016, 4-17-2016, 5-15-2016, 6-5-2016, 8-28-2016, 10-30-2016, 12-4-2016

Modest, charming inn with traditional British decor.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

4-3-2016, 5-1-2016, 9-18-2016, 10-9-2016

Full-service modern hotel, set amid the beauty and history of Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


A modern-day college town with a historic legacy, Charlottesville claims President Thomas Jefferson among its famous native sons. Monticello, Jefferson’s unique home, is one of many historic buildings in and around this vibrant community.

Varies by date and includes a new, modern hotel, centrally located amid the beauty and history of Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills, or a charming, modest Inn with traditional British decor.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Stephen Christoff

Stephen Christoff has been a musical fixture at Colonial Williamsburg for more than 15 years. Since 2006, he has performed his one-man show called "Seller of Songs" at the Hennage Theater in Colonial Williamsburg to sell-out audiences and rave reviews. In 2007, Stephen was a member of a collaborative performance team that played over 100 performances of "American Musicworks," a signature show designed for the Dewitt Wallace Galleries folk art exhibition, and also performed for the Jamestown 2007, Godspeed Sail and Landing Party Festival. He has headlined at locations including Mount Vernon, Chestertown Tea Party Festival, Virginia's Yorktown Celebration Festival, The National Portrait Gallery, The Library of Congress, The Black Swamp Arts Festival and Disney's Epcot Center.
Elizabeth Taylor

During her 22-year career in museum education and historical research, Beth Taylor served as the director of interpretation at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and director of education at James Madison's Montpelier. She is now a Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Beth's first book, "A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons," was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award nominee. Beth holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Jim Wootton

Jim Wootton served as curator and assistant director of Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe, where he collaborated with the museum staff in research, planning, and interpretation for more than 20 years. In 2000, Jim became executive director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council, which reviews projects that affect the State Capitol and the historic buildings and landscape of Capitol Square. Jim has appeared in films and documentaries and authored numerous articles and publications, including a biography of Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. Now retired, he has lectured with Road Scholar for over 10 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   English Inn
  Charlottesville 5 nights
 English Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the beautiful and historic Piedmont region of Virginia at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers a variety of activities and attractions, all located conveniently near the English Inn. In addition to the sites included in the program, there are additional historical homes, museums, and venues within easy driving distance. Browse through the shops in historic downtown, tour the local vineyards, or take a short trip to the Skyline Drive, famous for its fall splendor and breathtaking vistas.
  Contact info: 2000 Morton Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903 USA
phone: 800-786-5400
  Room amenities: Rooms appointed with two queen beds or one king, dresser and a wide desk. In-room coffee-maker, refrigerator, microwave, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, alarm clock, air conditioning, cable TV with HBO, telephone with voice mail, and computer data port (Internet high speed access).
  Facility amenities: Relax amid the warmth and charm of traditional British decor. Enjoy a bountiful, buffet breakfast every morning and tea and cookies in the afternoon. Indoor pool, sauna and workout room, adjacent to Rivanna Greenbelt Trail. The hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle from 7:00am-7:00pm, but reservations are needed. The shuttle can also pick up at the train and bus stations. Conveniently located only one mile from UVA campus. Enjoy the nearby fitness center, Gold's Gym, free with your room key. Elevators are available to upper floors. Daily USA Today newspaper available Monday-Friday from the front desk. Guest Business Office open 24 hours with fax machine available. Safe deposit boxes available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $75 plus tax, limited rooms The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $75 plus tax, limited rooms The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00pm Program Registration; 3:00pm Room Check In; 5:15pm Program Begins. You will be staying at English Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends mid-morning with time for check-out and individual lunch arrangements before trip home You will be staying at English Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
The hotel has free parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Charlottesville
  Nearest highway: I-64
  Nearest airport:  Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport; next closest is Richmond Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Charlottesville
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Charlottesville Greyhound/Amtrak Station


From Bus Terminal




Yellow Cab
phone: 434-295-4131
Advanced Reservations Required


Travel Time:


15 minutes 


Station serves both Amtrak train service and Greyhound Bus service. For train information, call 800-872-7245. For bus information, call 800-231-2222. In addition to taxis, the hotel shuttle is available from the station. Call the hotel in advance for information on how to schedule pick-up.


Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO)


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
English Inn Shuttle
phone: 800-786-5400
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes depending on traffic 




8 miles


Shuttle provided by the hotel free of charge between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. You should call the hotel ahead of time to let them know you plan to use the shuttle (this is not a reservation, just giving the hotel a heads-up). Once you get to the airport, you should go to the contact information board in the baggage claim area to get the pick-up number for the English Inn. A van will be sent as soon as possible after you call.

Driving Directions
  From Richmond/East of Richmond From Richmond/East of Richmond: Take I-64 WEST toward Charlottesville. Take exit #118B, just west of Charlottesville. This will be the RT. 29/250 Bypass. Follow the Bypass to the Emmet Street exit (about 4 miles). At the bottom of the ramp, immediately cross two lanes of traffic and get in the far left lane. Turn LEFT onto Morton Drive. The English Inn is behind Bodo’s Bagels. Although slightly longer than exiting I-64 east of Charlottesville, this route avoids traffic congestion, numerous stoplights, and major road construction.
  From Roanoke and West From 81, take I-64 East to Exit 118-B. This will be the 250 Bypass. Follow the Route 250 Bypass to the Emmet Street exit (about 4 miles). At the bottom of the exit, cross two lanes of traffic and get in the far left lane. Turn LEFT onto Morton Drive. The English Inn is behind Bodo’s Bagels.
  From Washington DC/Northern Virginia Take 66 WEST to Gainesville. Exit on 29 SOUTH towards Charlottesville, go about 70 miles before reaching the outskirts of Charlottesville. Upon reaching “local” traffic, go about five miles. You will go under the route 250 bypass and take your first LEFT. The English Inn is on Morton Drive behind Bodo’s Bagels.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation/Introduction to Three Presidents
(Sunday, October 11)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m.

Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table from 4:00-5:00 pm to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration.
 Dinner: In the pleasant ambience of the Windsor Room, enjoy a buffet meal that offers an entrée, side dishes, and beverage choices including coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: With our local expert, get a lively and detailed introduction to three Presidents from Virginia: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Learn fascinating details of their public and private lives as well as their friendships and their world. Explore the activities and contributions of the “Founding Fathers” to America from the colonial era through the Revolutionary War and development of the young republic from the Constitution to the Monroe Doctrine.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Society to Our Taste /UVA/ Monticello/Jefferson Perspectives
(Monday, October 12)

Note: UVA field trip involves walking about 3/4 mile; 10-15 steps between terraces. Those who prefer not to walk/climb steps may remain by the Rotunda. Monticello is at the top of a steep hill, reached by shuttle. The mansion is handicapped-accessible; parts of the grounds are steep and/or reached only by stairs; uneven pathways. The longest walk, past the Jefferson cemetery, is about 1/2 mile. Visitor Center exhibits provide an alternative for those who prefer something less physically demanding.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room, the breakfast buffet typically includes selections such as scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage links, pancakes or French toast, grits, hot cinnamon apples, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, English muffins, bagels, cereals, fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: Gain perspectives on the social order and lifestyles of Virginia’s landed gentry — including our three Presidents — and “a society to our taste.” Learn about life on plantations and estates far from the colonial hub of Williamsburg, Jefferson’s conceptions of the ideal society, and how he encouraged and supported his friends in joining that rare circle.

We will also have an illustrated overview of the University of Virginia (UVA).

Next we embark via motorcoach on a field trip to UVA, founded by Jefferson in 1819. He considered the creation of this “academical village” one of his greatest achievements. Led by an expert, we’ll walk through the Grounds to observe the impressive Rotunda and the Lawn, both designed by Jefferson. See Jefferson's vision of higher education as it unfolds in the layout of the classroom and residential buildings, student housing on the Lawn and Ranges, still in use today. Take in the gardens, serpentine wall, and pavilions, all part of Jefferson's concept and a model for university design throughout the country.

At the conclusion of our exploration, we take our motorcoach to Monticello.
 Lunch: At the Café at Monticello, we will have box lunches including a sandwich, fresh fruit salad, potato or pasta salad, a brownie, and water. You may sit indoors or outdoors (weather permitting) with views of the surrounding forest.
 Afternoon: If you knew nothing else about Jefferson and then visited Monticello, you would recognize the man as a genius. The house and gardens were designed, redesigned, built, and rebuilt over more than 40 years. Today, it is considered an “autobiographical masterpiece.” Led by an expert, we will have a guided exploration, walking through this exceptional mansion where you see the architecture he favored and some of the many innovative contrivances he devised. The furnishings, art, books, gadgets, and objects such as the 7-day clock and the alcove bed reveal Jefferson's unique and inquiring mind. It is astonishing to comprehend that one man conceived all of this. Leaving the house, you will have free time to walk through the extensive kitchen and ornamental gardens, and the Jefferson family cemetery where you see what he had carved onto his memorial stone.
 Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
 Evening: Jefferson was a man of mighty visions and contradictions who has been called an American sphinx. He wrote “all men are created equal” but owned slaves and may have had an affair with one of them. He wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom that inspired part of our Bill of Rights but was himself not religious. He was an advocate of limited government but as President took executive action that doubled the size of the U.S. with the Louisiana Purchase. Led by a Jefferson scholar, we will engage in a thoughtful consideration of Jefferson’s public and private views, compare his philosophical positions with his actions, and develop a deeper understanding of this brilliant man who simultaneously shaped and was constrained by the time and place in which he lived.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Perspectives on the Madisons / Montpelier
(Tuesday, October 13)

Note: Considerable walking and standing indoors and out; the round-trip walk between the Visitor Center and the mansion is approximately 2/3 mile on a pebble walkway that slopes (no shuttle). The second floor is reachable only by stairs; there are exhibits and videos on the first floor. Exhibits in the Education Center provide an alternative for those who prefer something less physically demanding.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
 Morning: In an expert presentation, gain an understanding and appreciation of Dolley Madison. Though the title “First Lady” came later, there is no doubt that she defined the role, establishing a set of precedents by which we still tend to judge our First Ladies. Raised a Quaker and not formally educated, Dolley Payne Todd Madison displayed innate, highly attuned social skills. She charmed both men and women. At the same time she was an intelligent and savvy politician's wife who understood the effectiveness of nuanced relationship building. She and James Madison had an exceptionally successful 42-year union both on a personal level and as one of the nation's first power couples.

We take our motorcoach to Montpelier for a field trip to learn more about the Madisons and explore their home. Intertwined with the house exploration is a new look to Madison's role in the development of the Constitution. This in-depth experience will focus on what makes Montpelier significant as a historical site, and the place where the Constitution was inspired. It will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rationality, mechanics, and purpose of the document as Madison saw it. The presentation will cover Madison's thinking prior to the Constitutional Convention; his contributions during the Convention; and his efforts to explain and secure the Constitution.
 Lunch: In the Visitor Center’s Exchange Café adjacent to the DuPont Gallery, we’ll have box lunches with a sandwich, fruit, chips, cookie, water.
 Afternoon: The remainder of the afternoon at Montpelier is free for you to see and do more of what interests you most at your own pace. Indoor exhibits include information on Madison's Presidency and the War of 1812, life at Montpelier during the tenure of the duPonts, and artifacts such as Dolley's engagement ring and James's walking stick, a gift of Thomas Jefferson. Outdoors, you are welcome to visit the duPont Formal Garden, the South Yard slave quarters, and the cemeteries.
 Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
 Evening: Delight in a lively performance called “Violins and Fiddles” by a talented musician who not only demonstrates the differing personalities of this single instrument, but also provides an informative commentary on music of the 18th century.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Presidential Plantations / Free Afternoon and Evening
(Wednesday, October 14)
 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
 Morning: In a two-part presentation this morning, we will examine the self-contained world of plantation life where a few lived in comfort supported by the many who labored in the fields and homes under the yoke of slavery. To separate fact from fiction, romanticized mythology from reality, our expert speaker will discuss issues such as family life, education, leisure, and other aspects of the parallel cultures on the plantation. We will also gain a sense of the contrasts between this elaborate and complicated lifestyle and the much simpler homesteads maintained by the vast majority of early American farmers. Our in-depth study includes time for question-and- answer interaction with the presenter.
 Lunch: In the Windsor Room.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Monroe/Jefferson as Architect/Michie Tavern/Ashlawn-Highland
(Thursday, October 15)

Note: Michie Tavern is located on a steep hillside with a flight of broad, shallow steps up to the Tavern; only dining room wheelchair accessible. The field trip to Ashlawn-Highland includes an exploration of the multi-level house that includes going up and down short flights of stairs. Participants who may have difficulty with the stairs can choose to view only the main floor then proceed out around the house on the landscaped grounds before rejoining the group in the lower level rooms.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Today’s first presentation focuses on James Monroe. He studied law as a young man with Virginia’s then-Governor, Thomas Jefferson, and the two became life-long friends and neighbors. Monroe’s long career of public service, began when he left The College of William and Mary to serve under Washington during the American Revolution. We will examine his time as a member of the Virginia legislature and the U. S. Senate and his terms as Virginia governor. We’ll also learn about Monroe’s public and private life including his Presidency and what was termed “the era of good feelings” remembered primarily for his declaration of the Monroe Doctrine.

Among his many accomplishments, Thomas Jefferson was an accomplished architect. With Jefferson as our focus, we will review architectural styles already observed on our field trips, consider popular architectural features of the era, and their relation to the culture of the new nation, reflecting not only the tastes and needs of owners but also their social status and relative wealth. Learn the meaning of some of those confusing architectural terms such as architrave, belt course, metope, and more.
 Lunch: At historic Michie Tavern, journey back to the 18th century with a traditional Bill of Fare (good Southern cooking!).

This tavern founded in 1784 by Scotsman William Michie (rhymes with sticky) was a social center of the community. After lunch, we will explore the building with an engaging local expert.
 Afternoon: For our next field trip, we explore the home of James Monroe. Some years after his marriage, Monroe and his wife established their domicile at Highland, adjacent to Monticello. The comparatively modest abode — renamed Ash Lawn-Highland after a later owner — contrasts with the mansions of the other two Presidents that are the focus of our program. Learn how the estate evolved over centuries, explore the elegantly furnished rooms of what Monroe called his “cabin-castle” and stroll the grounds to see gardens, reconstructed slave quarters, and impressive views of the surrounding mountains.
 Dinner: At a popular pub-themed restaurant a short walk from the hotel, enjoy a choice of home-style entrées with dessert and non-alcoholic beverages; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: Delight to the talents of an accomplished musician who will present an exclusive demonstration/concert for our group using a variety of fascinating instruments typical of the Revolutionary era. Some will be very familiar and others quite a surprise!

Then get a good night’s rest in anticipation of our concluding activities tomorrow.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Silent Voices: Women, Slaves, Free Blacks/Meet Col. Monroe
(Friday, October 16)

Note: Hotel check-out is by 12:00 Noon.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
 Morning: We have libraries full of information on the Founding Fathers, but society could not have functioned without those about whom early American history is largely silent. Learn about women whose support was crucial to the social structure, slaves whose muscle and sinew built an agrarian society, and free people of color who struggled to establish their place in a new nation that had declared “all men are created equal.”

Rounding out our experience, meet “Colonel Monroe” himself. Engage in a unique conversation with a knowledgeable and talented historical interpreter who provides first-person interaction with James Monroe. This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Charlottesville Historic Charlottesville
During your free time, you may wish to explore further the University of Virginia, tour an area vineyard, drive the picturesque Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway, or explore Charlottesville's restored downtown pedestrian center. Within reasonable driving distance you will also find the Walton's Mountain Museum, the P. Buckley Moss Museum, and the Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum. Your free time will be fairly limited, so consider extending your stay to enjoy all the Charlottesville area has to offer. Most of the historical sites have seasonal special events on the weekends that you may want to investigate by going to their individual websites.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

Author: Ambrose, Stephen E

James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity.

Author: Ammon, Harry

In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson

Author: Cunningham, Noble

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

Author: Gordon-Reed, Annette

The Evolution of the Constitution of the United States of the Monroe Doctrine

Author: Kasson, John A

James Madison: A Biography

Author: Ketcham, Ralph

Jefferson and Monticello: Biography of a Builder

Author: McLaughlin, Jack

American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

Author: Morgan, Edmund S

Thomas Jefferson: Writings: Autobiography/Notes of the State of Virginia/Public and Private Papers/Addresses/Letters

Author: Peterson, Merrill, ed

James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic

Author: Rakove, Jack

James Madison: Writings

Author: Rakove, Jack, ed.

The Political Philosophy of James Madison

Author: Sheldon, Garrett Ward

The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776-1826

Author: Smith, James M., ed.

Slavery at Monticello

Author: Stanton, Lucia

A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons

Author: Taylor, Elizabeth Dowling

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

Author: Ellis, Joseph J

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Author: Ellis, Joseph J

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