Throughout the Madisons’ retirement years (1817-1836), visitors to Montpelier were often surprised “at seeing [Madison's] negroes go to church [on] Sunday. They were gaily dressed, the women in bright-coloured calicoes; and, when a sprinkling of rain came, up went a dozen umbrellas.”1 This past Sunday, visitors to Montpelier also donned their much-needed umbrellas to pay homage to the generations of enslaved African Americans who lived and labored at Montpelier.
The summer has flown by and in the archaeology department we have made much progress in our excavations in the South Yard. We have completely uncovered the two southernmost slave quarters in the South Yard and have redefined our understanding of these buildings.
As we reported in an earlier post, the construction crew delayed building the second smokehouse to allow our archaeologists time to confirm its precise location. The archaeology team sprang into action and found the evidence to confirm where the original smokehouse stood.
The last couple of days have been busy! The construction crew completed the first smokehouse frame in the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Get your hard hats because we’re about to enter a construction zone! Beginning tomorrow visitors can watch a team of carpenters build timber outlines of two smokehouses, part of the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived and worked during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Does the number 1.618 mean anything to you? Perhaps not, but it is a number of importance to many mathematicians, architects, art history scholars, and maybe to our very own James Madison. In fact, it is the latest clue in the Presidential Detective Story.