VA -- Montpelier Station -- James Madison's Montpelier:
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- MONT_080919_003.JPG: You can see they're putting together the front fence
- MONT_080919_011.JPG: The grass markings were where children had done a stars and stripes portrayal for the opening day's festivities.
- MONT_080919_081.JPG: You can see there used to be an awning above this door
- MONT_080919_169.JPG: You'll notice the slight gap above the window. The window itself drops down into the foundation for ventilation.
- MONT_080919_235.JPG: They're putting in a handicapper lift on the left side
- MONT_080919_281.JPG: Homes for Enslaved Families
Slaves who worked in the Madison's household lived in this nearby area known as the "south yard." The yards of these homes, where most of the household activities took place, were in direct sight of the mansion. As a result, the Madisons would have controlled not only the appearance but also the activities within this space. This artist's depiction shows the south yard during a work day, when all but the oldest and the youngest slaves were busy with assigned tasks.
Foundation of Chimney for Duplex Residence
Archaeologists have excavated the site of one of the houses in the south yard. The form of the foundation shows that the home was a duplex with a central chimney. Other evidence shows that the home had a wood floor, glass windows, and was well built - much different from the crude log dwellings that field slaves lived in just a quarter-mile away.
Personal Artifacts Recovered from a Home
Buttons, beads, ceramics, and glassware were excavated from one home in the south yard, and were among the few personal belongings of slaves. They would have purchased these items at local markets and stores. It was common for slaves to earn money by selling vegetables they grew or by working in their limited spare time. Dolley's niece recalls her aunt buying cabbages, sweet potatoes, chickens, and eggs from "Old Sawney,"
who might have lived in one of these homes.
1837 Insurance Map
In 1837, about a year after James Madison's death, Dolley insured the home and nearby outbuildings. The insurance company's map, to the left, shows these buildings. Three residences, each a duplex for two slave families, and two smokehouses once stood in this area. The kitchen (the brick structure in the painting above) is absent in this insurance map, suggesting that the structure was not of enough value to insure in 1837.
- MONT_080919_286.JPG: They're doing an archaeological dig here
- MONT_080919_298.JPG: The Kitchen:
The Kitchen, so necessary to running a household, was located at some distance from the main house. Concealed between 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_080919_300.JPG: This is where the kitchen was
- MONT_080919_310.JPG: Here's where the handicapper lift is going
- MONT_080919_504.JPG: The Road
"Having lost ourselves in the mountain road which leads thro' a wild woody tract of ground, and wandering for some time in Mr. Madison's domain, which seemed interminable, we at last reached his hospitable mansion."
- Margret Bayard Smith, 1828
The road connected Montpelier with the world, produce and supplies, along with a steady stream of people on foot, on horseback, and in carriages, bumped and rattled their way to and from Montpelier. It took the Madisons one hour to journey five miles to the nearest town, Orange Court House, where they shopped, attended church, and conducted legal business. It took one day for enslaved teamsters to deliver the plantation's tobacco to the Fredericksburg market. It took months for Dolley's Parisian dresses and James's books from London to reach their destination. After the Madisons retired, friends, family, and admirers traveled for days to pay their respects. All who braved the rutted mud of the wild woody track knew that a warm welcome awaited at Motpelier's front door.
- MONT_080919_506.JPG: This is where the road came in
- MONT_080919_679.JPG: Mount Pleasant c. 1750s
First Madison Family Home Site
James Madison's grandfather, Ambrose Madison, had his slaves construct Mount Pleasant sometime after 1723. Ambrose moved his family here in 1732 from Virginia's Tidewater and unexpectedly died within a few months. Court records show that three slaves were tried and convicted for poisoning him. His widow, Francis, remained to raise their children, and successfully managed the plantation and directed the work of its 30 to 40 slaves. The painting shows how the home and its outbuildings may have appeared, based on archaeological remains.
The Stone-Lined Cellar of Mount Pleasant
The first Madison home, one o the first in this part of Virginia, was a relatively small structure measuring 26 by 24 feet. Enslaved workers dug the cellar below the house, pictured here during archaeological excavation, to serve as a storage area. By 1765, the family moved to the new Montpelier house and then demolished the old home
Reconstructed Wine Bottles Recovered from the Kitchen Cellar
Fragments of wine bottles were found in the kitchen cellar. The hand-blown, glass "seals" on the bottles contain the initials of James Madison, Sr. and indicate the refined status of the Madison family. These broken bottles were left in the cellar when the family moved to the new Montpelier home.
James Madison, Sr. was nine when his family moved here. In 1749 he married Nelly Conway and brought his wife home to Mount Pleasant. They had children and the plantation prospered. By the early 1760s they had moved into a new, brick home that became known as Montpelier. By 1800 all the original buildings were gone, leaving only the Madison Family Cemetery to mark the original homestead.
The Stone-Lined Kitchen Cellar
The kitchen was in a separate outbuilding, and the enslaved cook would have filled its cellar with vegetables and other food for the Madison family. The cook would have lived in an raised her family in the loft above her work area. After the Madison family moved, the kitchen was used as a home for a slave family who worked the farm fields.
Ceramics Recovered from Burnt Remains of Kitchen/Slave House
The kitchen burned around 1800, and the household possessions of the slave family living here were consumed in the blaze. The cups and plates were scorched, and fell into the cellar with the remains of the home. These ceramics were 40 to 50 years old at the time of the fire, and were likely castoffs from the household china of the President's grandmother, Francis Madison.
- MONT_080919_691.JPG: The family cemetery
- MONT_080919_733.JPG: James Madison's marker. Dolley's is behind his.
- MONT_080919_793.JPG: The Madison Family Cemetery
"The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished an perpetuated."
-James Madison, Advice to My Country, 1834
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 did 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.
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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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