John A. and Clara Barnes Smart deeded Secluded Farm to the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District in1974. Mr. Smart had a lifelong career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, and upon his retirement became a Director on the TJSWCD Board of Directors. Both Mr. and Mrs. Smart were still living in the house at the time it was deeded to the TJSWCD. Their primary focus in conveying the property was to forever preserve the property as a refuge for wildlife. (Conservation and Open Space Easements were not a legal alternative in those days.) The Smarts lived out the rest of their lives in the home, and the TJSWCD abides by their wish that their ashes after cremation would remain in the house.
The Smarts purchased the 150 acre Secluded Farm in 1939 and, soon after, built their 1800 sq.ft. home on this beautiful property. The home is built of local stone, and much of the interior is finished with American Chestnut lumber. It appears that the worm-hole-free lumber was harvested prior to the chestnut blight that wiped out those trees in North America. (For more information on the American Chestnut, and how you can help with restoration efforts, visit the American Chestnut Foundation website.)
Secluded Farm is adjacent to property owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello. In the late 1990’s, Monticello began constructing the Saunders-Monticello Trail on their property. At the same time, it was challenging for the TJSWCD to maintain the Smart’s home. In 2002, the TJSWCD and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation negotiated a 50-year renewable lease which allows the trails on Secluded Farm to connect to the Saunders-Monticello Trail. The agreement also allows Monticello to use the house for one of their staff members, and ensures that Monticello will maintain the home in good condition. This agreement has been a benefit to both organizations that have a mutual interest in conservation.