In 1778, founding father Thomas Jefferson drew up another important document: his plans for a classically inspired dovecote, a.k.a. a pigeon house, that would sit right on his Monticello estate. Sadly, Jefferson never saw it built. But now, more than 200 years after Jefferson first laid down those plans in ink drawings, Garden & Gun reports that the pigeon house he envisioned has been constructed at Rose Hill, a late-1700s estate some 100 miles from Monticello.
Here's how it happened: after insurance executive and devoted preservationist John Cay purchased the then-derelict Rose Hill house eight years ago, he hired a team to rebuild the place. One of those folks was landscape architect William Rieley, who just happened to be a connoisseur of Jeffersonian architecture. Rieley brought up the idea of building Jefferson's dovecote and Cay quickly agreed.
The structure is supported by twelve columns and measures twelve and a half feet long on each side. Under the stepped roof, Rieley added a "little apartment house" that the pigeons can access via a hole in the frieze. As Rieley tells Garden & Gun, it's a "pigeon loft in temple form." Though pigeon meat was prized dinner food during Jefferson's time, Cay doesn't intend to eat his flock of thirty-six pairs of white pigeons. However, he says his gardener will be able to use the birds' droppings for the garden.