The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #212

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 8 2014 @ 1:00pm

VFYWC-212

A stumped veteran player writes:

Zambia. I mean why not. You people are insane.

A happier reader:

I have no clue where this is, but I just wanted to say that I love the photo. One of my favorite VFYW photos ever. Thanks for posting. Can’t wait to learn where it was taken.

Another hazards a guess:

The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. This is merely a hunch based upon the details of the balustrade along the roof line and the green ridges in the distance. Never having been there, I am unsure of where in the building the window is located.

A more confident reader:

This is a view from the state capitol in Helena, Montana.  No doubt about it!

Another confident reader:

Has to be Yavin 4:

Yavin-4

That isn’t the view we’re looking for. But that Star Wars base and the White House actually were the most popular incorrect guesses this week. Another nails the right country:

 Happy Fourth of July!!!

Another:

I doubt if you will get a single wrong answer this week, so you will have to start off directly with the right answers.

A bunch of right answers:

The only private residence designated a world heritage site.

Until Frank Lloyd Wright came along, this building was the purest expression of intelligence in architecture in North America.

We hold this house to be self-evident. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of fancy rotunda.

Home of my most favorite dead president evah!

Let’s just let OpenHeatMap get to the point:

212-heatmap

One of those readers who correctly answered Charlottesville, Virginia:

I’ve never been to Monticello, but (noting the date of this particular contest) it was the first thing I googled, and – WHAMMO! – there was the window! Well, eight of them. Figuring out which one was the window in question wasn’t that difficult. I’d be very surprised if this VFYW doesn’t receive the most correct answers ever, based solely on the fact that was able to figure it out, and normally I stink at this. Truly, truly stink.

Indeed, a whopping 587 entries came in this week, the vast majority of them correct, rivaling only VFYW #14 from Brookline as the most popular contest. One entry came from “My Piggy Bank, Hawthorn Woods, IL”:

image

Apparently, the interior is much more expansive than I ever would have imagined!

Another smiles:

THIS IS MY FAVORITE VFYW CONTEST EVER! I mean it was obvious that the window was from Monticello, so I had the location within five seconds of going to the contest page. But who knew that Google streetview had actually had someone walk all over the property so that we could explore the whole area from afar?! I didn’t, until today. Thanks for pointing me towards a virtual tour that I am really enjoying this morning and will continue to enjoy for at least an hour more.

How one reader came to guess the correct window:

Monticello Dome from South Pavilion

When I saw this week’s window, the circular shape and the neoclassical details of the balustrade in the foreground reminded me right away of a window I knew high atop a building across the street from the Basilica in downtown Baltimore, near where I went to college. The story I’d always heard was that the window belonged to the apartment of the “father of American architecture,” Benjamin Latrobe, who’d designed the apartment and the window to give him a good vantage for supervising construction of the cathedral.  I kind of recalled that Latrobe and Jefferson were pals, and given yesterday’s holiday all signs pointed right to Monticello.

A bit of Google-mapping and image searching later and I found the Dome Room and sorted out from the position of the balustrade and the walkway below which of its eight windows the view was taken from. The Dome Room is fantastically cool, with green floors and Mars yellow walls which you can see a little bit of in the photo. And of course all those windows.

Monticello Dome Room

Another features some history:

Pictures make it appear to be a beautiful room, but apparently it had limited use in Jefferson’s time.  According to Monticello’s website:

During Jefferson’s lifetime, the only documented use of the dome room appears to have been as a grandson’s bedroom. Access to the room was reached after climbing steep, narrow stairs and following a low hallway along the third floor. There would seem to be a limit to the practicality of such a chamber, but certainly no argument against the aesthetic beauty of the space. Washington socialite Margaret Bayard Smith wrote, following her visit to the house in 1809, that “it is a nobel and beautiful apartment furnished and being in the attic story is not used, which I thought a great pity, as it might be made the most beautiful room in the house.”

An expert weighs in:

I attended the University of Virginia for six years, and acquired a Ph.D in the history of American architecture there, so I’ve been in the Dome Room many times.  It’s a pity that Jefferson’s most inventive room turned out to be nearly useless to him.  He had planned on making the room his library, but the weight of his thousands of books were too much for the structure of the house.  Had he put all his books there, they would have come crashing down into the Salon below.  So this glorious room because a storeroom and sometimes playroom for Jefferson’s many grandchildren. The library-in-a-dome idea had to wait until he designed the Rotunda at the University about 1819.

Another relays some speculation:

Historians aren’t 100% sure of what the room was built for, but one theory is shared in the comments on Monticello’s website:

Cinder Stanton, Monticello’s Senior Research Historian, suggests that Jefferson might have used this room as his panopticon, where with the aid of his telescope, he could keep an eye on everything, including his slaves. With Jeremy Bentham’s 18th Century book “Panopticon” in his collection and two former slaves noting his use of the telescope, it is a sinister yet plausible interpretation.

Personally, I link to think that Jefferson simply wanted a room to admire such a lovely view.

Another needs to hide his column:

Funny, I spent a couple years doing fine architectural woodwork in Virginia, and although I have never been to Monticello, I knew it in an instant: the restraint, the reason, the measuredness of it all. I could stare at that window all day without ever wanting to look through it. Thanks for posting it on a Saturday, because for me at least, this kind of architectural porn is not safe for work.

The best aerial view we got this week:

monticello_aerial_edits

But this reader is no fan of Jefferson:

In the view you posted, you can see a bit of the pediments’ sloping roof, as well as one of the walkways, below.  Lovely view of the countryside.  Too bad it was a concentration camp (i.e., slave plantation.)

My father’s grandparents supported the renovation of Monticello in 1923, and we have two plates from the inaugural dinner (Thomas Jefferson Foundation.)  I loved to look at them as a child.  They are inscribed with a beautiful cadence: “All my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.”  As I got older, and realized that not only was Monticello built on the backs of slaves, but a good deal of my ancestors’ money and social prominence as well (Maryland, Eastern Shore), I’m glad all we have left of that lucre are two stupid plates.

Another has a more balanced view:

I knew in an instant that this was Thomas Jefferson’s mansion, Monticello. When I was taken there on a family trip at age 8 it made a huge impression on me. At that time I was astonished by his genius as an inventor (such as his “polygraph” machine designed to make copies of his letters – it was two goose-quill pens latched together). Later I was astonished by the breadth of his thinking, and read scores of biographies.  After that I became equally astonished at his inability to deal with the unspeakable depravity of slave owning. It’s all worth contemplating when examining how this nation is so often at cross-purposes.

GIF of the day:

monticello2

For many, the view brought a flood of memories:

Many happy childhood vacations were spend riding around the US to historical sites where my father would bring to life the stories and high ideals of this America adventure. To him, I owe a debt whose payment is rendered as civic responsibility, social conviction, and a well-seasoned sense of Wonder. I was never allowed to visit the upper-floored room where this window reigns, but the picture portrays the view exactly as mustered in my vivid imagination.

Here’s to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

And here’s to clever readers:

nickel[1]

Gah! Another one that EVERYONE will get. At first glance I thought it would be really hard. Not much to go on in the photo. But then I realized it was the Fourth of July weekend and that we were probably looking out from a historical building related to the American Revolution, perhaps one of the Founding Father’s homes. Monticello was literally the first one I searched, but even if I hadn’t, how many different famous Founding Father homes are there? I can only think of Mount Vernon and Peace Field off the top of my head. But there are probably no more than five at most?

My only hope of winning is that most people will guess the wrong window. I first thought it was one of the front-facing windows, but a careful examination of the roof railing indicates that it’s the one facing the right side of the building.

Chini chimes in:

Looking at this one on my phone during the Argentina match I was sure it would be hard. Flat forestland, no other buildings, a real nightmare. But it only took a few minutes after the match ended to discover that it was, in fact, as easy as views get. You just had to ask yourself “What view would they pick for the Fourth of July?”

Many contestants had the same question:

vfywc-212-collage

On that note:

What happens when 500 people get the right answer?

Another contestant has a suggestion along those lines:

I expect that so many people will get the correct window, the win will come down to extreme precision. Based on how very deeply the window is recessed into the wall and the position of the distant horizon viewed through the window, one can determine how high the camera was off the floor:

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Or it might just have been an employee who stood on the only chair in the room (just visible in photo #8) when nobody was around … or some anonymous pituitary case.

An inspired entry, but we’re still giving the prize to the player with the most previous guesses but no wins, especially if they’ve guessed difficult contests in the past. So this long-suffering veteran gets the prize this week:

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 4.59.33 PM

I hope my many previous guesses will be enough to win the tiebreaker this time. We are looking out from the south-facing window on the top floor of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.

From the view’s submitter:

I think it’s either going to be super-hard or super-easy: you guys are either sadists or chumps!

This shot was taken facing south, overlooking the garden and slave quarters, in the dome room at the top of Monticello. (I’ve attached a photo of the Western facade, showing the window.) The dome is not generally open to the public: it’s part of a “Behind The Scenes” tour that must be reserved in advance, with only a limited number of slots available.

vfywinfo

Jefferson called this vista his “sea view,” and the Piedmont countryside rolling off to the horizon certainly evokes a large body of water – which just might beguile anyone who doesn’t know where the shot was taken!

(Archive: Text|Gallery)