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Rita Dove

"Monroe Hill" is a 2015 documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley made possible, in part, through an award from the Jefferson Trust; the film traces the roots, and historical context, of James Monroe's first home in Albemarle County and its transformation over three decades until the laying of the cornerstone at the University of Virginia on October 6, 1817.  Available on Kanopy Streaming. 

Through several interviews with experts and academics, Monroe Hill unearths the site's history, which contains the last remaining structures of the late 18th-century southern plantation. These surviving structures are silent witnesses to Monroe's struggle as a farmer and a politician from 1789 through 1817. The film includes a chapter of James Monroe's life as Minister to France and his relationship with Thomas Paine, Tom Wolfe, Adrienne de La Fayette, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

Featuring extensive documentation, interviews, and footage from D. W. Griffith's America and Orphans of the Storm, the film brings to light a new period of the life of James Monroe. The director resorts to the backdrop of Colonial Williamsburg in the late 1910s and early 1920s—as seen in Griffith's America—to recreate the experience of Monroe in Charlottesville at the turn of the 18th century: sequences and isolated scenes from Orphans of the Storm will also serve the purpose of illustrating the life of James Monroe from 1794—shortly after his arrival as Minister Plenipotentiary in 1794—until his return to the United States.

Monroe Hill is an investigation of a space stationary in time, an archeologically challenging experience that explores a place and the people that helped to transform it, thus, challenging the idea of a mythical birthplace of the University of Virginia. The film also explores similar properties owned by James Monroe during the last decade of the 18th century, such as Limestone Plantation.


"Monroe Hill" was filmed on location at the University of Virginia and various other places in Paris, Philadelphia, Richmond, Washington, Fredericksburg, and New York. The film was made possible with an award of $85,000 from the Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the Alumni Association of the University of Virginia.​

Heritage Film Project presents Monroe Hill, a film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley made possible through an award from The Jefferson Trust in collaboration with Brown Residential College | Curry School of Education | Ash Lawn-Highland with the support of the Office of the Provost & Vice Provost of the Arts | The Papers of James Monroe | Washington Papers | The James Monroe Museum and Library | The Presidential Precinct historical consultant Dan Preston additional consultants William Ferraro & Scott Harris featuring interviews with Dan Preston | Scott Harris | Sara Bon-Harper | Benjamin Ford | Kat Imhoff | William Ferraro | Louis Nelson | Kyle Edwards | Carl O. Trindle | Erik Midelfort | Anne McKeithen & Richard Guy Wilson sound mixer Kathleen Mueller executive producers Melissa Thomas-Hunt | Stephen Plaskon | Eduardo Montes-Bradley | silent film advisor David Shepard | Soledad Liendo producer Soledad Liendo writer-director Eduardo Montes-Bradley. As many as twenty-five students worked at different times on the production of Monroe Hill the documentary. The students, all residents of Brown College, one of three residential colleges at the University of Virginia, worked on the film's development, production, and postproduction. HD | 60 minutes. Available on Kanopy Streaming and Alexander Street Press.

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