America’s third president Thomas Jefferson worked on his Virginia plantation home, Monticello, for 40 years, but this modernized replica in Somers, Connecticut took just 14 months to build. The replica home was completed just in time for owner Prestley Blake’s 100th birthday in November 2014. The late Blake, who co-founded the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation in 1935, was an admirer of Jefferson and wanted his dream home to be just as magnificent as the founding father’s.

Staircase in Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
All images courtesy of Laplante Construction

Designed and built by Laplante Construction, the 10,000-square-foot replica is architecturally and historically accurate to the original on the outside, with one exception: a three-car garage. Jefferson was a self-taught architect who modeled the design of his home after the work of an Italian architect of the 1500s, Andrea Palladio. Blake’s replica is even topped with a dome, just like the real Monticello, a rare feature in modern private homes. Hand-molded bricks crafted in Virginia cover the facade.

Inside, historical elements are blended with the latest modern appliances and creature comforts. Large French doors, white oak and mahogany parquet floors, and coffered ceilings harken to details in Jefferson’s own home. What Jefferson certainly didn’t have in his 18th-century home was a wine fridge, elevator, or washer and dryer.

  • Kitchen in Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
  • elevator in Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut

Most of the materials used in the replica home were sourced locally, some even straight from the 10 1/2 acre parcel that the home sits on including oak, cedar, and red stone. Jefferson’s Monticello was also made with locally sourced materials including bricks made by enslaved people on the property, as well as timber and stone from Jefferson’s land.

The replica home cost Blake $8 million to build, but he never lived in it. Instead, Blake and his wife Helen lived in a separate house next to the Monticello property and used the replica to host charitable events. Blake told Mass Live that he knew he would never make money on the project, but wanted to create it as a gift to the community.

  • Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
  • Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
  • Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
  • Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
  • Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut

In 2019, the Blakes donated the building to Hillsdale College, a private Christina college based in Hillsdale, Michigan. The building now serves as the Blake Center for Faith and Freedom, a religious event space.

Blake’s Monticello in Connecticut is not the only replica in the nation. In the state of Washington, Professor Dan Sisson built his own Monticello of the West out of salvaged and discount materials over three decades. It is a four-fifths scale replica. Another replica of Monticello, which houses the offices of a spinal surgeon, sits in Kentucky.

Monticello Replica in Somers, Connecticut
Photo Courtesy of Laplante Construction

Next, check out The Temporary Replica of Federal Hall That Once Stood in Bryant Park and The Replica of Mount Vernon in Paris