While on Grounds, you may have looked to the west and seen a hill-top house reminiscent of Monticello. But isn’t Monticello east of Grounds? Yes, it is.
What you have seen is the Lewis Mountain House, also known as Onteora. Built in 1909, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and its 42 acres were originally landscape-designed by the renowned Warren H. Manning.
The home was recently acquired by Jefferson Trust Trustees Adrienne and Keith Woodard (Parent ’08). We asked Adrienne and Keith about the property and their plans for its future.
What led you to purchase the property?
We saw this as an opportunity to rescue a Charlottesville icon and to transform it from a neglected, mysterious place into a spectacular destination that more people would be able to use and enjoy. Our goal is to preserve the historic character of the property, revitalize the landscaping, and make it more accessible, usable, and enjoyable.
How will you use it?
Initially, it will be used for our own use as we strive to get the house and grounds into respectable condition. In addition to the main house, there is a guest house, and the original carriage house which we plan to rent for this upcoming school year. We are exploring with the county how we can make the main house and the almost 43-acre property, described in 1965 as a mountaintop park, more usable and purposeful. We have met with UVA architects and will be researching the property more to get a better understanding of its past and its potential for the future.
When will you receive your first guests/ customers?
Our youngest daughter, Anna-Marie (Col ’08), was recently married here in Charlottesville. We managed to clear out enough rooms, repaint and clean them to have family guests stay in 8 of the 11 bedrooms in the main house. During most of July we are staying here along with hosting 5 guest artists, who are in the summer performances of The Charlottesville Opera.
What interesting feature can you share about the house?
There are numerous interesting features in the house: huge pocket doors, multiple light sconces in every room, 14-foot-high ceilings, huge marble fireplace mantles, original silk wall coverings, original chandeliers and more. Of course, what stands out most are the views in every direction — from the very visible four-columned portico looking east towards UVA and Monticello, looking south from the original pool area towards Nelson County, from the ‘front’ entrance looking west towards Birdwood and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and from the north portico toward the airport and the Southwest Mountains. We were able to see Fourth of July fireworks in every direction!
The Lewis Mountain House is a gem right in the heart of UVA, Charlottesville and Albemarle County and we look forward to seeing what the next chapter holds in its long history.