Saving Monticello: The Little-Known Story of the Levy Familys Stewardship of Thomas Jeffersons Essay in Architecture
Journalist, historian, and author Marc Leepson will present a lively talk (complete with vintage images) of a little-known but important part of Sephardic Jewish-American history and American historic preservation: how U.S. Navy Commodore Uriah P. Levy and his nephew Jefferson M. Levy--who owned Monticello from 1834-1923--on two occasions repaired, restored, and preserved the Thomas Jefferson's iconic house in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The talk will include a history of the Levy-Phillips-Nunez Family, one of the most accomplished Jewish-American families of the 18th and 19th centuries. It begins with the arrival in 1733 of Dr. Samuel Nunez, a leader of a group of forty Sephardic Jews who fled Portugal and were among the founders of Savannah, Georgia. It includes the biographies of Uriah Levy (a fifth generation American, born in Philadelphia in 1792, who went on to a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy) and his nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy, who was born in New York City, and became a prominent lawyer, a hugely successful real estate and stock speculator, and a three-term member of Congress.
The heart of the story is Uriah and Jefferson Levy's stewardship of Monticello, without which the house very likely would not have survived.
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