Project Art PicTrip: Montpelier

This past weekend I took a Project Art PicTrip to the lifelong residence of James Madison. Montpelier, as the estate is named, was formed in 1723 by James Madison’s grandfather. Madison was born there, lived there (except during his terms as President of the United States), and died there after a long retirement. His wife Dolly was forced to sell the estate soon after his death and it went through several owners before Montpelier was bought by William DuPont in 1900. Under his daughter Marion, Montpelier was transformed into a horse racing heaven complete with a private track. Throughout the years, the Montpelier mansion was expanded several times to be more than 3 times its original size.

After Marion’s death in 1983, she gave the Montpelier estate to the National Trust. After a lengthy research period, restoration efforts began to restore the Montpelier mansion to the way it was during James Madison’s period there. From 2003 through 2008, restoration efforts were underway including demolition of the additions built-in the 1900’s. The Montpelier mansion has only been open to the public since 2008! The National Trust is restoring the building and surrounding grounds to this day. Most of Madison’s furniture was sold off through the years so the hunt to find those pieces has taken the longest.

I highly recommend you visit this historic place.

Out of the doorway of James Madison’s home, you are greeted with a stunning vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

James Madison was only 5’5″ tall and weighed just 100 pounds!

25′ under this rotunda resided Madison’s icebox. During the winter his slaves cut ice off a local lake and stored here for the summertime. This allowed the Madison’s to eat fresh meat and ice cream year round. One interesting part of the tour of Montpelier talked about Madison’s issue with slavery during the forming of the United States of America. It is refreshing to see Madison’s actual viewpoint on the topic of slavery (he hated it) and the National Trust not dancing around it.

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