The Monticello Connection

One very hot June, shortly after buying the Japanese house, I was standing on the west lawn of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, waiting for us to be called into the big open tent for our annual Cabinet dinner. The 250 Cabinet members fly in or drive in from everywhere and meet once a year for a weekend “retreat” on the mountaintop, to learn what’s been going on at Monticello in archaeology, science and research over the course of the previous year. I hadn’t seen most of my fellow Cabinet members in all that time, so I was telling some of them how I’d recently rescued this historic, but extremely dilapidated, Japanese house from demolition by developers.

An attractive red-haired woman named Fay, who’d overheard my conversation, followed me into the dinner tent and said, “The house you’ve just rescued: were you talking about Teruo Hara’s house?”

I said, “Actually, yes I was. But how could you have known that? He was a famous Japanese potter. But he only built one other house.”

She said: “I own that other house!”

That’s how Fay and I became friends, and started our fascinating journey together, to rescue my Japanese house from oblivion!

[Fay’s “other house” was quite a bit different from mine: hers was famous. I’d already read about it, in Architectural Digest. It was called Chogetsu (Moon Tide).]

Part II: The Journey to Chogetsu