Thursday, October 4, 2018

October 2018



Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XV, Number 10                                                                    October 1, 2018

The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner


‘ALSO AT MONTICELLO’: While doing research for my next book—another history of an important American house (details to come later)—I came across a document I’d never seen: Jefferson Monroe Levy 1897 passport application.

I knew Jefferson Levy had to have had a passport because, as I wrote in Saving Monticello, he made many trips abroad—primarily to England and France—after he’d made a fortune in real estate and stocks in the mid-1890’s.

Aside the satisfaction of adding the application to my Saving Monticello files, it was interesting (and illuminating) to read what Levy wrote in the application about where he lived. To wit: he was “now residing at 66 East 34th Street in the city of New York, and also at Monticello, Virginia.”

I also found it interesting that Levy wrote that his late father, Jonas Levy (Uriah Levy’s brother) was born in New York City and was a citizen of the United States, and then added the words, “born in Philadelphia.” Here’s the entire application as it appears on ancestry.com:




PRESIDENT CLEVELAND (con’t.)  The folks at Monticello were pleased to learn that, as I wrote in last month’s newsletter, a second president—Grover Cleveland—had paid a visit during the Levys’ ownership. Until I found a recently digitized Washington Post article detailing that July 1888 occasion, the only presidential visit we knew about was a 1903 trip up the mountain (on horseback) by President Theodore Roosevelt.

In the W.P. article, the reporter noted that Cleveland, who was not svelte, decided not to climb up a short incline to pay his respects at Jefferson’s grave site. Cleveland, instead, sat in his carriage for a few minutes peering up at the obelisk marking Jefferson’s grave, then ordered his driver to move up to the house. I used the modern-day photo on the right to illustrate the site that Cleveland saw.

Bill Bergen, the outstanding Monticello guide, found a Cleveland-era photo of the same spot (below), and kindly sent it to me. 



This more accurately shows what Cleveland saw that day—that is, that there were no steps. So he would have had to make his way up the small embankment in the rain, another probable reason why he decided not to get out of the carriage.

SEPTEMBER 20: I had a memorable day at Monticello on Thursday, September 20. My wife Janna and I drove up to the Mountain around 12:30 that afternoon, and took a 1:15 tour of the house, led by the great guide, Bill Bergen. We learned many things, and Bill kindly allowed me to add a few thoughts about Jefferson Levy during his concluding remarks to the tour group outside on the portico. That’s Bill with me after the tour.



After the tour we took in the new Sally Hemings exhibit—a short but moving, enlightening and brilliantly executed multi-media experience. After that, we went back down to the Visitors Center for a quick lunch at the cafĂ©, and then I signed books at the Gift Shop. Folks who were attending the evening’s reception for Monticello donors started coming in and I was happy to sign books and talk to them.  

We then drove back up to a parking lot near the house and walked over to the tent on the lawn where I did a sound check and the IT folks got my PowerPoint set up. Then back into the house where I sat down in one of the upstairs rooms for a video interview that the Foundation will be using on social media and for marketing.

We were back out on the lawn at 6:00 for the reception before the program. There was plenty of food—of the heavy hors d’oeuvre variety—and beverages. I opted for water as it was a muggy evening. I talked to a bunch of friendly people, including two Jefferson descendants, several guides, and other Monticello staffers.

Luckily, the rain that threatened did not materialize.

The program began at 7:00 with welcoming remarks from Leslie Bowman, who heads the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Susan Stein, Monticello’s long-time curator whom I have known and admired and worked with for nearly twenty-five years, spoke a bit about the Levys, and then gave me the best introduction I’ve ever had—and I’ve had more than a few over the years.

Then it was up to me to tell the story of the Levys and Monticello to around seven hundred people. My allotted half hour sped by. There were good questions from the audience, and more than a few folks came up to me afterward to chat. We left at around 9:00. A long, great day.



Special thanks to Leslie Bowman, Susan Stein and Mary Scott-Fleming, who did the logistical arrangements.

EVENTS:  Just one for me in October. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, I’ll be doing a talk on Saving Monticello in Norfolk for the Colonial Dames Tidewater Chapter.




If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marcleepson@gmail.com 

For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GreenBeretBook
 For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies, along with a good selection of brand-new copies of my other books: Flag: An American Biography; Desperate Engagement; Lafayette: Idealist General; What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, a Life; and Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Wars of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September 2018




Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XV, Number 9                                                                      September 1, 2018

The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner


CLEVELAND AT MONTICELLO:  Speaking of a discovery, I had a delightful one a few days ago while going through 19th century newspapers on the Proquest Historical Newspapers digital archive, a version of which my local library in Loudoun County, Virginia, provides to all library card holders.

I found a long Washington Post article that describes in detail an event that took place at Monticello in 1888 that I had never run across before: the June 27th visit by President Grover Cleveland.
I had thought—and said so countless time in talks I’ve done on Saving Monticello—that only one U.S. President had visited from 1834-1923 when Uriah Levy and Jefferson M. Levy owned the place. That was Theodore Roosevelt, who rode up the mountain on horseback on June 17, 1903. I describe that memorable occasion in the book.  

As I wrote, TR had been in Charlottesville attending commencement ceremonies at the University of Virginia, arriving by special train from Washington. On his ride up the mountain Roosevelt “wore riding britches, puttees, an easy coat, and well beaten hat, modified [Rough Rider style],” a witness reported. Jefferson Levy and his sister Amelia Mayhoff gave Roosevelt and company a private tour of the mansion.

Related image

President Cleveland was running for re-election in the summer of 1888. He would lose to Benjamin Harrison, but would regain the White House after winning the 1892 election, becoming the only U.S. president to serve non-consecutive terms. As TR did, Cleveland took a special train to Charlottesville to attend what Post reporter David Lewsley called “the graduating exercises” at the University.

Image result for grover cleveland
President Cleveland
Cleveland, a conservative Democrat—and the first member of his party to win a presidential election since 1856—also took time in C-ville to meet with “the most eminent surviving leaders of the ex-Confederacy,” as Lewsley put it, “to sit at the same table with them, to eat and drink with them, [and] to make speeches in reply to toasts proposed by them.”

After all that palavering, eating, and drinking, Cleveland and company paid a visit to Monticello. The party set out at 5:30 on a wet June afternoon.

Cleveland had balked at first, but U.S. Senator elect, 68-year-old John S. Barbour Jr. (below), who had been instrumental in bringing Cleveland to Charlottesville, convinced the president that “it would never do for him to return to Washington without having seen the home and the grave of Jefferson,” Lewsley reported.
Image result for senator john s. barbour virginia
Sen. John S. Barbour, Jr. 
So the cavalcade of “forty or fifty” carriages with Cleveland’s in the lead took off “dashing and splashing and rushing through” downtown Charlottesville. The “whole town” was “out on the streets shouting and waving flags, handkerchiefs and hats,” Lewsley wrote. “The house fronts were completely covered with flags and bunting fluttering in the breeze.”

Cleveland sat with Virginia Gov. Fitzhugh Lee in that first carriage, an open one “drawn by four white horses driven by a skillful black man with a footman beside him in the box.” Another important fact that Lewlsey noted: President Cleveland, a large man, and Governor Lee “together probably [weighed] about 600 pounds.”

It was a rough slog up the mountain. The road, Lewlsey—who could turn a phrase—noted, “is of clay, very red, and when wet, as it had been made by the rain that day, very tough and sticky. Pulling through a bed of putty would be lubrication itself by contrast.”

Many of the carriages didn’t make it to the top. But Cleveland’s—despite that not inconsiderable weight disadvantage—did. The first stop was Jefferson grave. It wasn’t a big hit.

For decades after Jefferson’s death visitors had vandalized his gravestone, taking dozens of chippings out of it. His family, which owned the graveyard at Monticello, began lobbying Congress in the late 1870s to build a new one. After years of wrangling, in April 1882, Congress appropriated $10,000 for a new monument over Jefferson’s grave and for other improvements to the graveyard site. A new, 18-foot granite monument was placed on Jefferson's grave that fall. Repairs were made to six other graves, a new iron fence was installed, and the entire site graded, re-seeded, and re-sodded.

The paint and gold gilding on the fence looked “quite fresh” six years later, Lewsley reported. However, everyone—including the president—decided to stay in their carriages and not make the short climb up to the graveyard.

Related image

That’s because, as Lewsley put it, there “seemed to be nothing to invite them to alight.” The monument “looked cold and forbidding,” he said. The tall iron railings were “haughty, exclusive, and threatening. There did not seem to be a gate or an opening in them anywhere. There was no way to get up close without climbing up the hillside on which the grass was wet and clay soft.”

Cleveland sat in his carriage for a minute or two, and “without raising his hat or making any outward sign to show that the poetry in his soul was moving within him,” ordered the driver to move up to the hill to the house.

The entrance to the house “was guarded by two dull red brick pillars” and an iron gate, Lewsley wrote. There was a sign on an oak tree that said, “No shooting or hunting will be permitted on these grounds. Jefferson M. Levy, owner.”

Levy was on hand, along with several family members Lewsley didn’t identify, to greet the president and his party. But he only allowed those with invitations to enter the house.

Of all things, Levy had several “gray-coated State Militia” men standing with fixed bayonets outside the door to keep out the uninvited. “If anyone attempted to intrude,” Lewsley wrote, “he found a bayonet or two pointed at him.” There also was a “big Irish tiger in Levy’s livery,” Lewsley said, “who is on the ground for such service every day.”

Cleveland and company were ushered into the Parlor where Jefferson Levy and “his family” (most likely his sister Amelia Mayhoff and her husband Charles) greeted them and gave them a tour of the house.

The Levys, Lewsley noted, “try to preserve as much of the old order of things as is practicable, but the furniture and fittings have had to be somewhat modernized to meet the requirements of living to-day.”

Cleveland enjoyed his visit “immensely, taking an eager interest in what was told him by the Levys.” The last stop was a “nice new visitors’ register that had been procured for the occasion,” Lewsley wrote.

The first autograph was “Grover Cleveland, Washington, D.C.”

EVENTS: Just one event on the calendar for September, but it promises to be a memorable one. I’ll be doing a talk on Saving Monticello at Monticello on the West Lawn on September 20. It’s the annual event for Monticello supporters.
I have more events coming up in October, November, and December. Stay tuned.
For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GreenBeretBook 

Image result for marc leepson talk

If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marcleepson@gmail.com  For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  




Monday, August 6, 2018

August 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XV, Number 8                                                                      August 1, 2018

The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner
STUDIO 360 REDUX:  I distinctly remember the day in the summer of 2010 when I sat down in a small studio at WETA, the NPR station in Arlington, Virginia, put on a pair of large headphones, and began talking into a giant radio microphone about the Levys and Monticello. On the other end of the line at the studios of WNYC in New York where Studio 360 originates was the producer Amanda Aroncyzk, who had contacted me a few weeks earlier.

The interview became part of a 50-minute Studio 360 “American Icons” program that ran on October 22, 2010. It was very well well done, and I was gratified that the last ten minutes or so covered the Levy family story I told in Saving Monticello.

That section also included the words of Susan Stein, Monticello’s long-time curator, and Harley Lewis, the Levy family descendant who helped me so much when I was doing the research for the book—and a bit of clever audio reconstruction.

In the intervening eight years, Studio 360 has rebroadcast the show three or four times, most recently last month. That most-recent version included up-to-date info on Monticello’s new Sally Hemings exhibit and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s latest efforts to tell the story of all the enslaved people at Monticello.

You can hear the original and the latest version of the show on the Studio 360 website at http://bit.ly/Studio360Monticello

SISTER AMELIA:  Twenty years ago, when I was doing the research for Saving Monticello, I spent many hours going through archival material at the Center for Jewish History at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City. It was there that I discovered a treasure trove of primary-source material on Jefferson M. Levy: several giant scrapbooks containing letters, speeches, and scores of yellowing, crumbling newspaper clippings about that prominent New Yorker. The clips included extensive coverage of his fight to keep Monticello during the 1912-17 effort by members of Congress to take the place from him and turn it into a government-run shrine to Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson M. Levy
Since then, much of that material has been digitized and some is available on the Center’s website. As I was browsing through the material the other day, I came across a newspaper clipping about Jefferson Levy’s younger sister Amelia.

Amelia Levy, who was born in 1858, married Carl Mayhoff, a New York City cotton broker, in 1890. The Mayhoffs lived most of the year in New York City at 66 East 34th Street, the same block where Jefferson Levy lived. Their only child, Monroe, was born in 1897.

Four years earlier, in the summer of 1893, Amelia had begun to play a not-insignifcant role in her family’s stewardship of Monticello.

As I noted in the book, after their mother’s death in January of 1893, Jefferson Levy (a life-long bachelor) asked Amelia—who used the name “von Mayhoff”—to be his hostess at Monticello, a position she relished. For the next thirty years the siblings regularly hosted long visits from friends and relatives who often arrived at Monticello with children and servants. Amelia also occasionally accompanied Jefferson Levy on his travels to Washington and to Europe.

During the seasons when she was in charge of Monticello, Amelia Mayhoff also presided over countless dinner parties, playing hostess to visiting dignitaries including President Theodore Roosevelt, ambassadors, members of Congress, and university professors, in addition to family and friends from Charlottesville, New York, and elsewhere.

Jefferson Levy left his entire estate to Amelia in a will he had executed on September 28, 1923, less than six months before he died on March 6, 1924. He wrote the will after he had agreed to sell Monticello to the newly formed Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. The deal was finalized on December 1, 1923, when Jefferson Levy signed the title of Monticello over to the Foundation in New York City. Within days after her brother’s death in March Amelia announced that she would not stand in the way of the final transfer of Monticello to the Foundation.

Amelia Mayhoff lobbied in 1928 to have portraits she had inherited of her brother Jefferson Levy and her uncle Uriah Levy that had long been hung in Monticello kept on display in the house. But Fiske Kimball, who was hired to chair the Foundation’s Monticello Restoration Committee, turned down the officer.

Amelia then donated the full-length Uriah Levy oil portrait to the U.S. Navy. It is on display today at the Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis. She presented the life-sized oil painting of Jefferson Levy to the New York Democratic Club. Jefferson Levy was one of that New York City organization’s founders

EVENTS: Taking a rare break from speaking events in August, but have plenty scheduled for the fall. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, for info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GreenBeretBook


 If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marcleepson@gmail.com  For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XV, Number 7                                                                      July 1, 2018

"The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery." - Eric Foner

CREATED EQUAL:  The headlines tell the story:
  • “Monticello is Done Avoiding Jefferson’s Relationship with Sally Hemings”—New York Times
  • “Sally Hemings Gets Her Recognition at Monticello”—Washington Post
  •  “Sally Hemings Takes Center Stage”—New York Times op ed. by Annette Gordon-Reed


The news that those headlines heralded was the June 16 ceremony marking the opening of a new exhibition at Monticello devoted to the life of Sally Hemings and other members of her family.
It is located in a room along the south wing of the house that archeologists and historians believe was once inhabited by Hemings. That room, formerly a public bathroom, has been restored to what it most likely looked like when Sally Hemings was alive.

“Symbolically and emotionally, the restoration of the Hemings room is the heart of the new interpretation of Monticello,” Washington Post architecture critic Philip Kennicott wrote, “and it makes tangible a relationship that has been controversial since rumors of ‘Dusky Sally’ became part of the American political landscape in the early 19th century.”

Visitors to Monticello “will for the first time see Sally Hemings depicted as a central figure in life on the mountain,” Gordon-Reed, the author of The Hemingses of Monticello who spoke at the ceremonies, wrote. “This is a remarkable turn of events. For centuries, historians denied Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings. This exhibit has been a long time coming, but better late than never.”

Some three hundred descendants of enslaved people who labored at Monticello were among the crowd that day, June 16, 2018—a day “that will go down go down in Monticello’s history,” as Leslie Bowman, the Thomas Jefferson’s Foundation’s President, put it in her opening remarks.


There’s an excellent on-line version of the Sally Hemings exhibit at http://bit.ly/HemingsExhibit

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has videos of the entire June 16 opening ceremonies—including remarks by Bowman, Gordon-Reed, and Monticello benefactor David Rubenstein—on its website at http://bit.ly/June16Ceremonies

R12 AT THE LEVY CENTER: That’s U.S. Naval Academy speak for the position held by Lt. Steven Ballaban, who in January was named the 12th rabbi assigned to the Academy. Rabbi Ballaban holds a BA in English Literature from Vassar, along with an MA in Hebrew Letters, and an MA and a PhD in Philosophy from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He received his rabbinical ordination in 1986, after which he went on active duty in the Navy. He later served in the Navy Reserve and in 2014 was commissioned as a chaplain. He previously served as Staff Chaplain at the Naval Air Facility in Atsugi in Japan.

How does this relate to Saving Monticello? Rabbi Ballaban, as the Naval Academy’s rabbi, is the spiritual leader of the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and the Esther and William Miller Jewish Chapel (in photo below). The Center and Chapel were dedicated in September of 2005 adjacent to Bancroft Hall, the gigantic building where all 4,000 Midshipmen live and eat their meals.

The architect included a dome on the entrance in honor of Uriah Levy’s stewardship of Monticello, which he owned from 1834 to his death in 1862, and which he repaired, restored, and preserved.



EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my July speaking events. For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GreenBeretBook
·         Tuesday, July 3 – Talk on Ballad of the Green Beret and book signing at The Glebe retirement community, Daleville, Virginia

·         Thursday, July 26 – Talk on Ballad and book signing at Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Leadership & Education Conference, Palm Springs, California




If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marcleepson@gmail.com  For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.

Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 6  
                                                                    June 1, 2018
The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner

JOHN LOCKE IS BACK:  Most readers of this newsletter know that when Thomas Jefferson died (on July 4, 1826), he left his family with a huge debt: more than $107,000. That forced his heirs—his daughter Martha Randolph and her son Thomas Jefferson Randolph—to sell virtually all of Monticello’s furniture and furnishings (as well as his enslaved people)—and eventually Monticello itself.

That sad state of affairs is an integral part of Saving Monticello and I cover it in detail in the book. As I wrote, the Randolphs held a sale on the mountain on January 15, 1827, that lasted five days. There is no complete record of who bought the items, but family letters reveal that Jefferson’s grandchildren purchased most of the furniture and furnishings. Jefferson’s art works (including sixty-three paintings) and books were not part of the January 1827 auction.


The family decided to market the paintings and other works of art in Boston, where they thought the collection would bring better prices than in Charlottesville. They held a sale at the Boston Athenaeum in July 1828 with disappointing results. A second sale took place five years later, on July 19, 1833. It was an auction at Harding’s Gallery in Boston. Again, the results were disappointing; only a few paintings were sold.

I didn’t go into detail in the book about where the paintings went or what they sold for. But I’ve since learned that an unidentified buyer bought a portrait (for $35) that Jefferson owned of the famed Enlightenment philosopher John Locke. That painting—a copy of one from the Royal Society in London, which Jefferson purchased in 1789—had hung in the upper tier of the Parlor at Monticello in a group with Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. Jefferson called them “my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.”

Sometime after 1833, the Locke portrait made its way to Harvard University. In 1959, Harvard donated the painting was given to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and it was restored to its place in the Parlor.

Flash forward to a few years ago. A group of visitors touring Monticello noticed that the Locke painting was in not-great condition. Inquiries were made. The visitors then generously decided to donate the funds to have it conserved. To do the work, Monticello hired Scott Nolley, who runs Fine Art Conservation of Virginia.



                                                Before                                          After
                       
In a short, but fascinating video, Nolley, Monticello Assistant Curator Emilie Johnson, and Monticello Museum Technician Caitlin Hepner explain the complex process of getting the painting back to its original 18th century condition. It involved a “reversal,” and much in-repainting and retouching.

The before-and-after images are from the page on the Monticello web site that includes the video. Take a look: http://bit.ly/2LockePainting

EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my June speaking events. For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GreenBeretBook
·         Saturday, June 9 – Talk on Flag: An American Biography and book signing at the Maryland DAR Chapter Regents Club Luncheon, Chevy Chase, Maryland
·         Saturday, June 16  – Talk on Ballad and book signing for the Mount Vernon Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, Alexandria, Virginia
·         Thursday, June 21 – Talk on Flag and book signing for Washington (D.C.) Metro Oasis (Life-Long Learning), Bethesda, Maryland. For info and reservations, call 301-469-6800
·       Saturday, June 23 - Virginia Chapter of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims, Charlottesville, Virginia
·         Tuesday, June 26   Talk on Saving Monticello and book signing for the Augustus P. Gardner American Legion Post, McLean, Virginia





If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com

For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEAS:  Want a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.  


Friday, May 4, 2018

May 2018


Saving Monticello: The Newsletter
The latest about the book, author events, and more
Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson
Volume XV, Number 5                                                                      May 1, 2018
The study of the past is a constantly evolving, never-ending journey of discovery.” – Eric Foner
MYSTERY SOLVED:  Readers of this newsletter may remember that we have written several times over the years about the fate of the “Levy Lions,” the four statues that Jefferson Levy had arrayed at Monticello. The lions—which were pictured oin the engraving of Monticello that was on the back of the $2 bill from 1929-1976—were sold after the Thomas Jefferson Foundation bought Monticello from Levy in 1923 and disposed of all of its non-Jefferson contents.

Decades later, we learned that two of the lions made their way to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville. But the fate of the other two remained unknown. Until now.

Rebecca English, who lives near Charlottesville, started a quest to find the two missing Levy Lions after she thought she spotted one outside a house not far from Monticello nearly five years ago. She first wrote about that on her excellent Forsythia Hill blog in December of 2013.

In that and subsequent posts Rebecca reported on her progress (or lack thereof) trying to track down the missing lions. Then early this year she hit pay dirt. She discovered the lions at a historic home listed for sale in Hendersonville, North Carolina, near Asheville.



“I knew the second I saw the lions that they were authentic,” Rebecca writes in her blog. She did some close side-by-side comparisons of photos of the lions from the late 19th and early 20th century at Monticello and shots of the ones in North Carolina. The only discrepancy Rebecca found was “time and wear,” she wrote. “The lions are missing a few teeth but everything else matches up!”

The Levy Lions sit regally on the rear terrace (see photo above) of a historic house called Chanteloup, which was built in 1840 for a French count and countess on 28 acres of land and sometimes is known as “Little Biltmore.” In 1900 new owners brought in the pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the terraced gardens.

Rebecca drove to Hendersonville to confirm what she suspected. “Not only was the trip to see the lions amazing,” she wrote, “but the property owners celebrated this event with us by providing lunch on the veranda. I could gaze upon the lions and the Olmsted gardens and watch the birds dip and dive down in the valley below.”


Below are photos Rebecca took and kindly gave us permission to use of the lions at Chanteloup.
You can read her entire post at http://bit.ly/LevyLionsFound




EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my May speaking events. For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to http://bit.ly/GBBallad
·         Tuesday, May 1– Talk on Ballad of the Green Beret and book signing for the Veterans Military History Group at the Silver Spring (Maryland) Senior Center.
·         Saturday, May 5 – Talk on Ballad for the Lane’s Mill DAR Chapter and book signing at monthly meeting in Centreville, Virginia
·         Monday, May 14 – Talk on What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life for the Chasseur Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
·         Tuesday, May 15 – Talk on Francis Scott Key, the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the history of the American flag at the JCC of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax. More info at http://bit.ly/JCCFlag
·         Saturday, May 19 – Moderator of a 9:30 a.m. panel on Vietnam War Biography at the annual Biographers International Organization (BIO) Conference, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. For more info and to register go to https://www.regonline.com/2018BIOconference


  
If you’d like to arrange an event for Saving Monticello—or for any of my other books, including Ballad of the Green Beret—please email me at marc527psc@aol.com
For details on other upcoming events, go to http://leepsoncalendar.blogspot.com

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at marcleepson@gmail.com  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to marcleepson.com/signedbooks.html to order copies through my local bookstore, Second Chapter Books in Middleburg, Virginia. We also have copies of Desperate Engagement, Flag, and What So Proudly We Hailed, and Ballad of the Green Beret.