Virginia 2013: Montpelier

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My favorite home that we visited on this vacation was the home of James Madison.  On our way from Harrisonburg to Williamsburg, we made a 15 minute detour to Orange, VA to visit James Madison's Montpelier!  We were not sure if we wanted to make the stop but I am glad we did!

All of the other homes that we visited were rather complete.  They had lots of the original furniture and paintings, ect.  This was not the case with James Madison's home.  They are actually still doing archeological digs in order to find more items that were once in this home.

Fortunately, they have found lots of writings by people who had visited the home.  Some of the journals were very specific about colors and how the furniture was arranged.  This has helped with the re-furnishing of Montpelier.

James and Dolley Madison lived at Montpelier during Jame's retirement years, beginning in 1817, however, the property had been in the Madison Family for many years beginning with James's grandparents.

Unfortunately, Dolley's son, John (whom James adopted) caused a lot of problems for the family.  He is believed to have been an alcoholic and a gambler and was often in jail.  James and Dolley had to bail him out multiple times eventually forcing Dolley to sell Montpelier.   Also, she sold a lot of their possessions to try to pay off his debts which is part of the reason that Montpelier remains incomplete.

A major restoration of this home occurred between 2003 and 2008 to restore the home to the way it was when the Madison's lived there.   Since a few other families had lived there, it had changed quite a bit before being handed over to the National Trust of Historical Preservation

The property was huge and absolutely beautiful.   We spent some time walking around the property and also checked out the archeology lab.  It was neat to see all of the things that had been dug up over the years.  There are also active dig sites on the property which is pretty neat.

I am definitely glad we took the little detour to Montpelier.  I think the tour was the most educational and I loved our guide, he was so fun!   I also just loved the house and the property.   I highly recommend a visit!

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