Thomas Jefferson was a man that was ahead of his time. His many gadgets, such as the indoor wind vane plate, were inventive then, but are curiosities now. As a farmer, Jefferson was always concerned about the weather. He kept meticulous records for over 40 years. The public rooms of Monticello are cluttered with artifacts. In 1803, explorers Lewis and Clark trekked through the land that became the Louisiana Purchase. Indian artifacts, fossils, animal heads, and skins were some of the items that these adventurers brought back for Jefferson. Portraits and clocks are intermingled with the artifacts. The Great Clock was built in Philadelphia and is a special feature one of the public rooms. It is powered by 18-pound cannonballs that descend through the floor. One can keep track of the day of the week as the cannonballs pass signs posted on the wall. On Sunday, the clock is wound back up from the basement and the descent begins again.
It has been said that no other house more accurately reflects the personality of its owner than Monticello. In the private rooms of the house, visitors see artifacts of Jefferson’s many interests. Adjoining his bedroom is a greenhouse; a book room with over 7,000 volumes; a study with an early copying machine, book swivel, and such scientific instruments as a telescope. Skylights and closets are also part of the private areas and are ideas Jefferson used from 18th-century Europe. An indoor privy, not found in American homes of the time, also stands out as an element of French influence and inventiveness. The parlor is the most formal room. It is furnished with items from France, including many chairs, a chess set, oil paintings, clocks, mirrors, and a harpsichord. Simultaneously opening doors and a wine dumbwaiter are two more unique features to this room. A revolving buffet in the dining room aided the food service for the butler. Thomas Jefferson died in his bedroom, surrounded by all the things he loved the most, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.