Montpelier, Charlottesville

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  • The house
    The house
    by Tom_Fields
  • The Temple
    The Temple
    by Tom_Fields
  • Madison's Landmark Forest
    Madison's Landmark Forest
    by Tom_Fields
  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo


    by Tom_Fields Written Sep 16, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    James Madison, the fourth President, is best remembered as the main author of the Federalist Papers. Having studied the history of republics through the ages, he recommended a system of government that allowed majority rule but respected minority rights. He also advocated separation of powers, dividing the Federal government into three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. His ideas were incorporated into the Constitution of the United States, which replaced the older Articles of Confederation.

    Madison was a tireless advocate of the form of government that the United States adopted. He was among the most influential of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

    He also served as President during the War of 1812. This was the only time that a foreign power took Washington, burning it to the ground.

    Madison was born and raised where on this estate, which his grandfather had acquired in 1723. The house dates back to 1765. Successive generations added to it and made countless modifications, until Madison's widow Dolley sold it in 1844. Later, the Duponts (the founders of the giant chemical company) bought it and added their own chapter to its long history.

    At this time, the old house is undergoing extensive restoration. The aim is to restore it to its appearance during Madison's time. The work should be complete sometime during 2008. Check the website below for more information.

    You can take guided tours inside the home; just be sure not to disturb the delicate work in progress. The gardens are outstanding. Be sure to visit the temple, where Madison went for quiet contemplation. You can stroll the Landmark Forest (Madison was what we now call an environmentalist), and see the Madison cemetery, as well as the slave cemetery.

    The house The beautiful gardens Caution:  Restoration in progress The Temple Madison's Landmark Forest
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Montpelier

    by DTParker Updated Mar 26, 2005

    Montpelier was the home of James and Dolley Madison, a remarkable couple.

    James Madison has been called the chief architect of the most important political experiement in human history. He was the "Father of the Constitution" and author of the Bill of Rights.

    His home, Montpelier, is near Orange, VA (Montpelier Station, to be precise) and is about half an hour from Charlottesville.

    It is currently undergoing a major restoration to return it to the way it was when he and Dolley lived there. Special "hard hat" tours are offered to the pubic of this fascinating undertaking.

    This place is well worth a visit.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    by steph4867 Written Mar 13, 2003

    This 2,700-acre estate facing the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville was home to President James Madison and his equally famous wife, Dolley. Madison was just 26 when he ensured that the 1776 Constitutional Convention in Williamsburg would include religious freedom in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and his efforts at the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787 earned him the title "Father of the Constitution." Madison became secretary of state under his good friend Thomas Jefferson in 1801, and succeeded Jefferson as president in 1809. He and Dolley fled the White House in the face of advancing British troops during the War of 1812. The sharp-tongued Dolley served as White House hostess during bachelor Jefferson's two terms and as First Lady during her husband's two.

    Madison inherited Montpelier, then a modest two-story red-brick Georgian residence, from his father, who built it around 1760. With architectural advice from Jefferson, Madison expanded its proportions, including a wing just for Dolley. Two structures remain from their time: the main house and the "Ice House Temple" (built over a well and used to store ice).

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired the property following her death in 1984, and architectural historians have been carefully studying the house since then.

    The house has changed significantly since the Madisons' time, and most of their personal possessions have been widely dispersed, so don't expect the usual historical mansion tour here. Restoration is ongoing, including Dolley's wing and her first-floor private chambers. The best way to see it all is on the daily "Behind-the-Scenes" guided tour, which includes rarely-opened rooms on the second floor.


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