Orange Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by apbeaches
  • Things to Do
    by apbeaches
  • Things to Do
    by apbeaches

Most Recent Things to Do in Orange

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, The Temple

    by von.otter Updated Oct 24, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, The Temple, May 2009
    4 more images

    “A short walk from the house was a beautiful temple. It was built over the icehouse, which made it very cool; close to it was an immense mulberry tree. This building was intended, but never used for, the President's study.”
    — Mary Cutts, Dolly Madison’s niece

    Mr. Madison’s Temple Used as a logo for Montpelier, the Temple was built in 1810 over a 24-foot deep well. As Mrs. Cutts states in her memoirs, this well was used as an icehouse. The ice was made the old-fashion way, by Mother Nature. One of the several ice ponds that were scattered around the plantation still exists near the Temple. In winter, the ponds’ ice would be cut into pieces with a special saw; it was then hauled to the Temple by horse and wagon. Packed in straw until the summer when it was used for cold drinks and for making ice cream, ice was a real luxury in the early 19th century.

    Ice cream and Dolley Madison are forever connected. She first served it at the White House when she acted as hostess for Jefferson. Although not known as ‘First Lady’ during her lifetime, the term was first used for her when Zachary Taylor referred to her as such at her 1849 funeral.

    The Temple was designed in 1802 by Dr. William Thornton, architect of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Madison is believed to have wanted the Temple built as a symbol, connecting the republican ideals of Ancient Rome with his high hopes for his new country.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Garden, Part II

    by von.otter Written Oct 24, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, Garden Walk, May 2009
    4 more images

    “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”
    — James Madison (1751-1836)

    Today, Montpelier’s terraced garden covers two acres, half of what it did when the Madisons lived here. This garden is similar to the one that was planted in the early 20th century when the duPonts owned the estate. The Garden Club of Virginia supported a restoration of the duPont-era garden in 1990. Seasonal flowers such as irises, roses, stock, China pinks, lilies and other flowers popular in James Madison’s day as well as intricate landscaping can now be seen on your garden walk.

    I was charmed by the ogee-arch (see photos #2, #3, and #4) outlined gate found at one end of Montpelier’s garden. Its marble tile sections were intricately carved with scenes appropriate for a garden, birds, flowers and vines. At the center of the center axis path is bird bath basin. The red brick wall enclosing the garden, the stone bird bath (see photo #2) the reclining lions (see photo #5) flanking the steps and the sundial (see photo #1) were added during the duPont’s tenure.

    In addition to the formal gardens, a 200-acre National Natural Landmark Forest is part of Montpelier’s attractions. Running through the forest is an original Madison-era road and has largely been untouched by modern means. Because the Landmark Forest has been preserved so well, it gives insight into what Madison may have seen while living at Montpelier. In April of 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns Montpelier, placed the land under a perpetual easement with The Nature Conservancy, in an effort to protect this forest for future generations. Two miles of hiking trails are opened to the public within the forest.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Garden, Part I

    by von.otter Updated Oct 24, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, von.otter at Garden Gate, May 2009
    4 more images

    “At some distance from the house was the garden, laid off in the shape of a horseshoe by an experienced French gardener, who lived many years on the place; his name was Beazee; he and his wife came to Virginia at the time of the French Revolution and left Mr. Madison shortly before his death to return to “La belle France.” They were great favorites with the negroes, some of whom they taught to speak French. The choicest fruits, especially pears, were raised in abundance, figs bore their two crops every summer, which Mr. Madison liked to gather himself; arbors of grapes, over which he exercised the same authority. It was a paradise of roses and other flowers, to say nothing of the strawberries, and vegetables; every rare plant and fruit was sent to him by his admiring friends, who knew his taste, and they were carefully studied and reared by the gardener and his black aides.”
    — a description of the Madison’s garden at Montpelier in a mid-19th century memoir by Mary Cutts, Dolley Madison’s niece. note: the French gardner name was Bizet, misspelled by Mrs. Cutts

    Garden Delight That garden is not this garden. Although this present-day garden occupies roughly the same area as did the Madison’s, the arrangement of the flowers and shrubs, the statuary and gates and walls date from the early 20th century.

    Dolley sold Montpelier in 1844; the garden was neglected under subsequent owners for a half-century. In 1901, William duPont bought Montpelier; his wife Annie transformed the original garden of vegetables, fruit trees and flowers into a formal garden. The National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired Montpelier in 1984; and in 1990 the Garden Club of Virginia funded the restoration of the garden to the standard of Annie duPont, for whom it is named.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Archaeology

    by von.otter Written Oct 24, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, Archaeological Dig, May 2009
    1 more image

    “It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people’s business.”
    — Dolley Madison (1768-1849)

    Others are looking to Dolley’s business. The business of her kitchen was the focus of an archaeological dig in progress next to the mansion. Will our kitchen ever be the focus of such curiosity? A plate believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette (Madison was a minister to France) has been found in the red clay of Montpelier. The dish’s pattern matches others in the collection at Versailles.

    Dolley was not as nice to her slaves as she was to those of her own caste. This was the assessment of Paul Jennings, who came to work for the Madisons when they first moved into the White House in 1809; Jennings was 10 years of age. Jennings would be at the former president’s bedside when he died in 1836. Despite Dolley’s mistreatment of him and other slaves she owned, Jennings, after buying his freedom, would donate to Dolley’s support when she fell on hard times.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Bronze Monument

    by von.otter Updated Oct 24, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, the Maidsons in bronze, May 2009
    4 more images

    “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.”
    — James Madison (1751-1836)

    We had the good fortune to visit Montpelier on the day that a bronze sculptural grouping was dedicated. The brief ceremony included a short talk by the designer and sculptor of the work, Ivan Schwartz, whose company, StudioEIS, is located in Brooklyn, NY.

    This charming work is located at the rear of the mansion, ready to greet visitors as they emerge from the house tour. Take a moment to pose with James and Dolley; that is why they are there. According to remarks at the dedication, this scene is meant to show that James, by showing Dolley a book, respected his wife’s intellect and input. Also, from what was said at the dedication, these are very accurately-sized figures; measurements were taken from clothes known to be owned by the couple. Descriptions of the pair from letters were used to reach close-as-possible, life-like images.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Family Cemetery

    by von.otter Written Oct 24, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, Cemetery Marker, May 2009
    4 more images

    “All that seems indispensable in stating the account between the dead and the living, is to see that the debts against the latter do not exceed the advances made by the former.”
    — James Madison (1751-1836)

    Generation to Generation Unlike his good friend Jefferson, Madison was a frugal man. Jefferson died leaving a ‘monticello’ of debt; whereas Madison was solvent upon his death.

    James, Dolley, and other Madisons, including James’ parents and Colonel John Willis, a great nephew of President Madison and owner of the Mayhurst Plantation, now an inn where we stopped during our stay in the area, are buried on the plantation grounds. The graves of the former president and his wife are marked with granite obelisks (see photo #3). Standing beside Dolley’s marker, I seem to glow with her spirit (see photo #5)!

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Montpelier, Home of James Madison, Exterior

    by von.otter Updated Oct 24, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Montpelier, in the fog, May 2009
    4 more images

    “Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”
    — James Madison (1751-1836)

    It was here at Montpelier that Madison wrote the U.S. Constitution. Our guide for the house tour was very excited to show us the study. This was where Madison spent months researching previous forms of democratic government, figuring out why they had failed, and crafting solutions to make the new U.S. democracy work.

    It was difficult to share the guide’s excitement; empty rooms do not stimulate, and the entire house was empty. In late 2008, the mansion had completed a seven-year restoration project. Because this project returned the physical building to how the Madisons knew it, the decision was made to decorate as they would have done.

    It was a damp, cloudy day, but the foggy conditions gave the plantation grounds and mansion a mystical look (see photo #1). This photo was taken on the approach road to the grounds.

    When it came time to install a front door (see photo #4) as part of the expansion project of his father’s plantation house, Madison asked his good friend Jefferson to design one.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • apbeaches's Profile Photo

    James Madison's Montpelier

    by apbeaches Updated Apr 19, 2009
    3 more images

    We began with a ten minute film about Pres. Madison and Montpelier. The visitors center had a gift shop, gallery, snack bar & restrooms. We walked down the hill to the Madison Family Cemetery and gravesite while waiting for our tour.

    Travis our tour guide brought us through President Madison's Home, Montpelier which was under extensive renovation. The furniture was missing & archaeologists recently prepared a fifteen-volume report that meticulously detailing evolution of the mansion. In addition, a survey of available primary source documents on the main house was also made prior to the restoration. These documents include visitor accounts, letters to and from the Madison's, and bills from various contractors. Together, the studies have identified three construction episodes during the Madison ownership and alterations made by the mansion's subsequent owners. Travis explained what the rooms would look like once finished. Then we went under the home to see Dolly Madison's large & functional kitchen.

    These investigations have discovered that there were three different periods of construction during Montpelier’s ownership by the Madison's. The first portion of the house, consisting of four rooms on the first floor arranged around a central passage, was constructed in 1764 by James Madison’s father. The second construction period occurred circa 1797 when James Madison built a 30-foot extension onto his father’s house. Finally, President Madison undertakes a massive renovation to Montpelier starting circa 1809 after he is elected president. During this renovation, the one-story wings were added onto each side of the house; the drawing room was created from two of the 1764 rooms; and all but one of the windows were re-aligned and re-sized to create a symmetrical exterior appearance.

    Pres. Madison's Temple—is used to represent Montpelier. The Temple is classic in form, and beautiful in its setting, yet beneath it lies an ice well—two stories deep—that provided the Madisons with cool drinks and ice cream all summer long, a luxury in the 1800s. The Temple was placed in the north yard so that it could be seen by guests from the north wing roof as they sipped their cool drinks.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Orange

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

86 travelers online now

Comments

Orange Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Orange things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Orange sightseeing.

View all Orange hotels