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Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Heritage Tourism

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
Forest, Virginia

During his second term as President in 1806, Thomas Jefferson began developing several acres of the 5,000-acre Poplar Forest plantation as his occasional retreat. Jefferson’s core area and octagonal house were purchased in 1983 by the non-profit Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, which now owns over 500 acres of the original Poplar Forest plantation. The Poplar Forest Historic Landscape Schematic Master Plan addresses the future of this important landscape at three scales: core area, plantation and arrival zone. Heritage Landscapes inventoried the archival materials and archaeological findings, analyzed the landscape character of each of the principal historic periods, described the existing conditions and developed a comprehensive approach to the landscape guided by clear principles. Although much of the Jefferson period landscape character had been altered or lost over time, portions of the property have potential for recapture of documented historic conditions.

Heritage tourism considers the regional scale in terms of visitor routing, wayfinding and arrival experience.  Heritage Landscapes worked with Poplar Forest staff and board members to develop a viable and pleasing, more direct approach in consultation with the Virginia Department of Transportation, Bedford District, the City of Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Metropolitan Planning Organization recommending better interstate and local road connections and a frontage road boulevard treatment. Plantation recommendations propose integrated campus development in an appropriate area, improved property circulation for visitor, bus and service vehicles and pedestrians, and interpretation of the plantation, woodland and archaeological sites. The campus, a complex of sustainable, indoor and outdoor facilities, will provide a range of facilities focused on a visitor learning center. Jefferson’s 60-acre curtilege defines the historic core landscape and interpretation, improved circulation and minimal support facilities are planned with the house and designed landscape as the focus. Heritage Landscapes is currently working with the Corporation for Poplar Forest on implementing this comprehensive plan for arrival, plantation, campus and core landscapes.

The Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Poplar Forest Historic Landscape Schematic Master Plan and Phase One Implementation

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Patricia M. O'Donnell, Principal, Peter Viteretto, Project Landscape Architect, Kimball Erdman, Project Manager, Bryne Riley , Project Staff.

Award-Winning Project