James Madison's Montpelier
11407 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA, USA
www.montpelier.org - 1-540-672-2728
James Madison's Montpelier Montpelier Station Reviews
Going for a Constitutional Nov 27, 2015
The plantation home of James and Dolley Madison, this elegant facility offers insight into multiple periods of American history. Of course the focus is upon James Madison, fourth president of the United States. Perhaps the deepest thanks I owe Montpelier is reminding me that Madison was the “Father of the Constitution”. I always recall Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the Declaration of Independence, but always fail to recall the author of the document which actually has more impact upon American lives.
Even though Montpelier has only been recently restored (the bulk of the effort completed in 2008), I am hopeful it gains traction as a place to visit. I was most struck by the upstairs study where James researched all available history to draft the Constitution. Do not believe I was aware how Madison surveyed ancient through contemporary civilizations to identify the components he believed essential to building a vibrant democratic society.
I learned more about Dolley, as well (including how to properly spell her name...as in NOT Dolly). Prior to this visit I did not realize she was the origin of the term ‘First Lady, and a quite dynamic individual.
You should devote much more time exploring Montpelier than I did. Arriving at 3PM precluded a large window to dig in. Unfortunately I did not need much time to explore the slave quarters. Madison had erected a relatively posh village to house slaves tending to domestic concerns at Montpelier and took great pains to showcase his “progressive treatment” (an oxymoron, if ever I heard one) to visitors. I thought this would be a target for reconstruction (no pun intended), but the slave village has not been replicated. Though there are only fragments of what might originally have stood here, at least there is quality signage documenting life and times.
The Visitor’s Center is lovely and informative. It includes a small theater and you watch an introductory video (about ten minutes long) before being led to the house. Beyond the Montpelier structure, the grounds encompass 2,700 acres and there are a multitude of interesting locations to investigate. One could easily spend several hours here, so I advise you to budget accordingly for your visit!
Part of the Gone to the Dogs...now "Virginia" travel blog
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Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison Aug 04, 2009
Montpelier was the Virginia Piedmont home of James Madison, fourth President of the United States, and Dolley Madison. The historic house has recently been restored to its early 19th Century appearance.
By visiting Montpelier, you can learn about the Madisons and the early National era of US history. James Madison was a principal author of the US Constitution and the Federalist papers urging its ratification. Later, Madison was President during the War of 1812. Vivacious Dolley Madison is considered the first "First Lady".
A film at the visitor center introduces the Madisons and his role in the framing of the Constitution. A docent leads a tour of the interior of the house, but visitors are free to explore the grounds, garden, and forest trail on their own.
The house and estate were privately owned until 1983. Restoring the house to its current configuration meant the demolition of additions made since Madison's time. The restoration revealed many insights into 18th and 19th century architecture and construction. Archaeological work in ongoing and the results are on display. You will probably encounter archaeologists at work and can interact with them.
I recommend including a visit to Montpelier when you are visiting Jefferson's Monticello near Charlottesville, or visiting the Virginia wine country.
Part of the Daytripping around Virginia travel blog
Part of the list Historic Houses
Part of the list Andy's Northern Virginia Attractions and Travel Tips
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