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

EVENTS: Here’s a rundown on my May speaking events. For info on my latest book, Ballad of the Green Beret, please go to
·         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
·         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

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
For details on other upcoming events, go to

GIFT IDEASWant a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello? Please e-mail me at  I also have a few as-new, unopened hardcover copies.
Or go to 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.   

1 comment:

Rebecca English said...

Thanks so much Marc for sharing my finding. It was a memorable day!
Great blog as always!