Dolley Madison is renowned as a fashion icon of the Early Republic. She is often remembered for her glamorous appearance as First Lady hosting parties in the fashionably decorated Drawing Room of the President’s House. But how do we know what Mrs. Madison wore? The answer is threefold: portraits, written descriptions, and surviving gowns which are believed to be hers.
The opening of Montpelier’s new exhibit Dolley Madison’s Life Through Fashion: Dressing the Part is less than two days away! The exhibit will use eight costumes created for the PBS documentary Dolley Madison: America’s First Lady to tell her life story.
During the hot summer months, James and Dolley Madison always left the muggy Washington weather behind to relax at Montpelier, their beloved Virginia estate. This summer, they’re coming home again! On most Saturdays and Sundays, June through September, you can meet “James” and “Dolley” in the mansion’s South Wing.
You are cordially invited to celebrate Dolley Madison’s 243rd birthday at Montpelier on Friday, May 20, 2011. Join “Mrs. Madison” for cake and lemonade at the Montpelier Visitor Center at 11:00 a.m. Then, take a tour of the home, where she showered guests with her legendary hospitality.
Today marks the 78th annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia, an event the Madisons would have enjoyed with relish. In addition to his roles as politician and scholar, James Madison was interested in science, agriculture, and horticulture.
It’s the early spring of 1861. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas have all seceded. The first shots of the Civil War ring out over Fort Sumter. In Virginia, a state secession convention is underway, but a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the state. What would life in the Confederacy mean for Virginians serving in the U.S. Army? What would a war mean to civilians at home?
Do you remember the Case of the Missing Painting, where our curatorial detectives tracked down a work of art which had hung at Montpelier and then traveled to Washington with Dolley in the 1840s? The painting was on display in the Montpelier Visitor Center Grills Gallery in May 2008, and removed in October 2010 for conservation and cleaning.
Have you ever wondered what an insider’s view of Montpelier is like? The Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier is offering the chance to find out! Participants in the Center’s new evening seminar, “James and Dolley Madison and the Founding of Our Nation” will come to Montpelier, learn about the Constitution, tour the Madisons’ home, and see the latest archaeological dig through this rare educational experience.
When was the last time you had a party with 1,000 of your friends? Montpelier was thrilled to welcome the more than 1,000 people who joined us a few days ago to celebrate the anniversary of James Madison’s 260th birthday!