Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Lynchburg in Bedford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Why is the lawn sunken?

 
 
Why is the lawn sunken? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, October 1, 2016
1. Why is the lawn sunken? Marker
Inscription. Thomas Jefferson designed the sunken lawn to accommodate the lower level of the house and form an area similar to a plain parterre or bowling green. Enslaved laborers led by Phil Hubbard, working on their own time for pay, excavated the lawn and built the mounds that flank the house with its backfill. In 1812, Jefferson directed his overseer to plant flowering shrubs on the banks.

Archaeologists located these plantings (blue markers) during excavations of the sunken lawn. The plantings were recognizable as dark organic stains in the soil. Pollen grains recovered from these stains could be linked to two of the five shrub species specified by Jefferson. Phytoliths (microscopic plant silicas recovered during excavation) suggest the lawn itself was planted in turf, while native grasses and weeds also grew on the banks with the shrubs.

In addition, archaeologists located an accompanying drainage system. The relationship of the drain to the planting holes and lawn surface indicates that Jefferson redesigned the lawn sometime after 1814 (white markers).
 
Location. 37° 20.842′ N, 79° 15.861′ W. Marker is near Lynchburg, Virginia, in Bedford County. Marker can be reached from Bateman Bridge Road. Touch for map. Located on the grounds
Why is the lawn sunken? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, October 1, 2016
2. Why is the lawn sunken? Marker
of Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest. Marker is in this post office area: Forest VA 24551, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. What happened to Poplar Forest after Jefferson's death? (within shouting distance of this marker); Why build the mounds? (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Poplar Forest Planting Memorandum 1812 (about 300 feet away); Plantation Worker Housing (about 300 feet away); How was the landscape partitioned? (about 400 feet away); Commemorating Lewis and Clark (about 400 feet away); St. Stephen's Church (approx. 2 miles away); Samuel Miller (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lynchburg.
 
Categories. ArchitectureHorticulture & ForestryPatriots & Patriotism
 
Why is the lawn sunken? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, October 1, 2016
3. Why is the lawn sunken? Marker
Early 20th century photographs show that Kentucky Coffee trees lined the tops of the banks. These trees are likely remnants of Jefferson's design.
Why is the lawn sunken? Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, October 1, 2016
4. Why is the lawn sunken? Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 20, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 19, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 102 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 19, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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