VA -- Montpelier Station -- James Madison's Montpelier:
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- MONT_060812_016.JPG: The Temple:
The Temple, elegant and classical, symbolized the Montpelier that James Madison created. Complete in 1811, while he was President, it replaced a noisy blacksmith shop that stood nearby. Within, the Temple is a quiet place, well suited for reflection on liberty and learning. From a distance, it visibly captures the essence of Madison's democratic political ideals and his dreams of an agrarian republic. Still, all is not what it seems, for the philosopher and writer had a practical bent. He could not justify building a useless garden golly. So beneath the columns, Madison built an icehouse that enabled him to serve chilled beverages to his guests.
- MONT_060812_021.JPG: The Temple
- MONT_060812_027.JPG: Gravestones for the DuPont horses
- MONT_060812_050.JPG: The view from the front door
- MONT_060812_052.JPG: This is the surviving remnant of the DuPont portion of the house. The rest was removed for the restoration. This too will be removed once the remodeling is done but it's being used for supplies and such now.
- MONT_060812_073.JPG: The front portico
- MONT_060812_098.JPG: Notice the trap door to the cooler
- MONT_060812_104.JPG: To the right at the base is another entrance to the cooler
- MONT_060812_137.JPG: The Portico:
The Portico, designed by Madison, frames a vista dominated by his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. When his father built the first section of Montpelier in the 1760s, he oriented it toward the west and a seemingly endless frontier. By the time Madison first enlarged the house, in the 1790s, a new nation had been born, and he had shaped its Constitution. When he added the two one-story wings, he was President of the United States, and American settlers were pushing westward into lands of the Louisiana Purchase that he had helped to acquire. In his retirement, Monroe continued to look toward the west, whose open spaces guaranteed that the United States could remain a nation of farmers -- his ideal for a republic.
- MONT_060812_144.JPG: The Kitchen, so necessary to running a household, was located at some distance from the MAIN HOUSE. Concealed behind trees, a small building once stood on these exposed foundations. Virginia planters built separate kitchens because of the risk of fire and the constant heat from an open hearth. African American women, skilled in the European manner of cooking, worked under their mistresses' supervision to prepare daily meals and the more elaborate fare offered to guests. After the day's hot and heavy work, the women returned to their own families to cook foods that likely combined American ingredients with African styles of preparation.
- MONT_060812_151.JPG: Foundation of the outside kitchen
- MONT_060812_157.JPG: The back of the house
- MONT_060812_189.JPG: The museum is in this building. Most of the artifacts are to be moved back into the house once they're finished with it.
- MONT_060812_203.JPG: The Quarters:
The Quarters, a cluster of wooden buildings segregated from the main house, provided shelter for some of Montpelier's enslaved community. Accommodating both individuals and families, they were located near the workplace to assure efficient production. Within the harsh realities of slavery, the quarters became a kind of village where people developed strategies for coping with their living and working conditions, adapted to their master's requirements, and preserved their African heritage. The quarters also became an important crucible for emerging African American cultural traditions.
- MONT_060812_235.JPG: African-American Cemetery:
The African American Cemetery is the final resting place for some of Montpelier's enslaved community. At funerals, people could share religious values that had their origins in various African traditions. Most often, these occasions aroused mixed emotions. They signaled at once an end and a transformation of life. Burials may have been accompanies by processions through the graveyards. Bearers of the coffin would have lowered it into a grave dug on an exist, so that the eyes of the deceased faced sunrise in the east. The living then offered music, dancing, and religious preaching to help transport the spirit "home," which for many meant back to the African homeland. Feasting may have concluded the day and its bittersweet celebration of ultimate freedom.
- MONT_060812_237.JPG: Slave cemetery
- MONT_060812_253.JPG: The History of Mount Pleasant:
You are standing at the Mount Pleasant archeological site, the original home of the Madison family and the childhood home of president James Madison. In the spring of 1732, the president's grandparents, Ambrose and Frances Madison and their three children (including the father of the president) moved to Mount Pleasant. By early winter of that year, Ambrose Madison died. Frances took over the operation of the plantation, directing its work force of 29 enslaved Africans and overseeing the production of tobacco and food crops on its nearly 4,000 acres. Frances never remarried.
The president's father, James Madison, Sr., took title of the land on his 18th birthday in 1741. He expanded the economic base of the plantation to include some merchant activities and, later, building services and blacksmithing. The future president, James Madison, grew up during this era of expansion. When he was nine, the family moved into the newly completed core of the present-day mansion of Montpelier.
Discovering Mount Pleasant:
The Mount Pleasant complex is being investigated through archeological survey and excavations. As a plantation complex, Mount Pleasant included not only the dwelling house for the Madison family, but also a kitchen, storage buildings, slave quarters, barns and work areas. Nearly all of this complex was abandoned when the Madison family moved to the Montpelier mansion in 1760. Maps from the 1840s show an overseer's house near the cemetery. Whether this structure is the former Mount Pleasant dwelling house or a newer structure is difficult to establish. Current archeological research is seeking to answer this question and many others.
Since 1997, excavations have uncovered the remains of what may be the yard for the dwelling house. You are standing in the yard and in front of you are the remains of the kitchen, several outbuildings, and a fence. During the Madison family's occupation of Mount Pleasant, the cemetery was already in use. Ambrose Madison died in 1732 and was one of the first family members to be buried here.
- MONT_060812_260.JPG: Family cemetery
- MONT_060812_266.JPG: The Madison Family Cemetery:
The Madison Family Cemetery is the understated resting place for two of America's most remarkable people: James and Dolley Madison. When the last Founding Father died in 1836, Dolley, together with friends, family, and slaves, paid loving respect. Public tribute came two months later, when John Quincy Adams delivered a passionate oration celebrating the man who had formulated the Constitution and sponsored the Bill of Rights. After the death of her cherished James, Dolley moved to Washington, D.C., where she resumed her role as the city's leading hostess. When she died in 1849, nearly penniless, all of Washington turned out for her state funeral. This rare honor acknowledged the legacies of both Madisons and their profound role in shaping our nation.
- MONT_060812_269.JPG: James Madison's grave
- MONT_060812_283.JPG: Dolley Madison's grave
- MONT_060812_293.JPG: Frank Carson, I believe they said he was the only non-family grave in the cemetery.
- MONT_060812_316.JPG: Archeological work in Mount Pleasant
- MONT_060812_320.JPG: Mount Pleasant, built around 1725 by Ambrose Madison, was the seat for his 2,338-acre plantation. The Madisons traced their Virginia roots to the mid-1600s, and Ambrose was among the Piedmonth's earliest settlers. After clearing the largest timber, slaves planted tobacco, corn, and fruit trees to establish the farm's economic base. Ambrose died suddenly in 1732, leaving his widow, Frances, to run the young plantation. His will, however, dictated that their son, James, assume responsibility for Mount Pleasant when he turned eighteen. James Madison, Sr., lived here with his mother, even after he married and had children, including James Jr. (b. 1751). By the 1760s, Madison, Sr., had improved the plantation by expanding his crops, adding artisan shops run by skilled slaves, and building a new house for his family.
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- Wikipedia Description: Montpelier (James Madison)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Montpelier was the estate of James Madison, fourth President of the United States. It is four miles south of Orange, Virginia and covers some 2,750 acres.
The land, in the Piedmont of Virginia, was acquired by James Madison's grandfather, Ambrose Madison, and his brother-in-law Thomas Chew, in 1723. Ambrose and his family moved to the plantation, then known as Mount Pleasant, in 1732. When Ambrose died only six months later, poisoned, it was said, by three slaves, his wife Frances managed the estate; in time she was assisted by their only son, James, later Colonel Madison. Colonel Madison's first-born son, also James, was born in 1751 at his mother's family estate in Port Conway, but soon moved to Montpelier. He spent his first years here, before moving to a new house built by his father half a mile away. This new house forms the heart of the main house at Montpelier today. Built around 1764, with two stories of brick in Flemish bond, and a low, hipped roof with chimney stacks at both ends.
James, Junior inherited Montpelier after his father's death in 1801 and retired there after his second term as president came to an end in 1817. In 1797, after his first retirement from politics, he added a thirty-foot extension and a Tuscan portico. Single-story flat-roofed extensions were built at either end of the house and a Drawing Room was created out of two of the existing rooms in around 1810. James Madison died in 1836 and is buried in the family cemetery at Montpelier. His widow, Dolley Madison, moved back to Washington, D.C. after his death and sold the estate in 1844.
Montpelier was permanently staffed by an enslaved African population which fluctuated in size but averaged approximately 100 during James Madison's tenure as owner.
After some renovations in the later 1800s (c. 1855 and c. 1880), the house was acquired in 1901 by William and Annie Rogers duPont of the du Pont family. The du Ponts preserved much of the core of the Madison home, gardens, and grounds of Montpelier as a legacy for all Americans while enlarging the house considerably. They added wings that more than doubled the size of the house to 55 rooms. In 1983, their daughter Marion du Pont Scott bequeathed the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Montpelier is open to paying visitors. A major restoration program was started in October 2003 and is expected to end in early 2008. Montpelier continues to host the annual Montpelier Hunt Races, an autumn steeplechase event started by Marion du Pont Scott and her brother William du Pont, Jr. in 1934. At the entrance to the Montpelier garden is the largest of several Cedars of Lebanon, this one certainly planted during James Madison’s lifetime. Montpelier abuts the James Madison Landmark Forest, a 200-acre stand of old growth forest, one of the largest and best preserved groves of old-growth piedmont forest in the eastern United States.
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