Modern Uses for Monticello Classics


The house was in an unfinished state, and when Mr. Seymour observed it, Mr. Jefferson replied—“And I hope it will remain so during my life, as architecture is my delight, and putting up, and pulling down, one of my favourite amusements.” –Thomas Jefferson (as told by Margaret Bayard Smith)

Thomas Jefferson was constantly designing and reinventing furnishings and devices to improve day to day living. As a “Founding Tastemaker,” Jefferson remains a source of inspiration for contemporary home decor. Modern, alternative uses for these Jeffersonian classics reveal both Jefferson’s ingenuity and the continued functionality of his designs.

Revolving BookstandAmong the many fascinating devices found in Jefferson’s Cabinet, this one perhaps most clearly suggests Jefferson’s passion for knowledge. The Revolving Bookstand, once thought to be a music stand, was probably made or adapted to Jefferson’s design and specifications in the joinery at Monticello. The cube-shaped stand has five adjustable rests that can be folded down to form a cube. A central pole enables the stand to rotate at the bottom and as many as five books could be placed on it at a time. Jefferson may have conveniently placed it next to his chair in his reading-and-writing arrangement.

Swap the books for framed photos and this remarkable device can display your friends, family and favorite moments. Made of solid mahogany with a soft, hand-polished finish, the rotating stand holds multiple picture frames at adjustable angles on rests that fold down to form a 12″ cube.Canterbury

An excellent accompaniment to the Revolving Bookstand is the Monticello Canterbury. The Jefferson family kept favorites from their enormous collection of sheet music in this portable rack. It has four compartments and a lower open shelf. Corner pieces, each topped with small turned finials, extend into turned legs ending in brass casters. The casters and the “hand hole” at the middle divider allowed the Canterbury to be “run in under the pianoforte.”

The Canterbury is still quite handy, though you’re just as likely to use its four compartments and lower shelf as convenient storage for your most cherished books and magazines. The casters on the legs and handgrip at the top make it easy to move around, allowing your stacks of reading to come with you. Mahogany, with brass casters.

How would you use these two timeless Jeffersonian pieces in your home? Post your favorite alternative use below!

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