Brian McNeill had an interesting article in the Progress on Friday that I don’t want to miss: Monticello is going to start renting out their grounds for private events. They’re not (yet) allowing the home itself to be rented out, but much of the property is fair game, and for the right price, you can buy a private tour of the house. They’re even looking at renting the grounds out for weddings. This is a significant change from how Monticello was run under the twenty year tenure of recently-retired Daniel Jordan, the prior executive director of the private organization that owns and operates Thomas Jefferson’s home. (Jordan had no comment for McNeill, which I think can be read as a rebuke of the new practice.)
It’s not clear to me whether this new practice is innovative or reprehensible, but the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s claim that this is “kind of in the Jeffersonian tradition” strikes me as ridiculous. It’s true that Jefferson was known for his hospitality, which is rather a different thing than renting out his front lawn for bar mitzvahs.