• Piecing together History

    Montpelier Staff

    The archaeology department  recently finished its field season in the South Yard and  just began an analysis of all the artifacts recovered during the nine-month excavation season. The analysis of the household items recovered from the South Yard will be very important for our overall archaeological study of Montpelier’s enslaved community.

  • “I hope this will find you…enjoying the commencement of a new year with every prospect that can make it a happy one.” – James Madison

    Montpelier Staff

    Christmas day has come and gone at Montpelier and like Christmas, New Year’s Day gave the Madisons and their contemporaries an opportunity to send holiday greetings to family and friends along with wishes for a prosperous and healthy year to come.

  • “I embrace you…with a thousand wishes for your happiness and prosperity on every and many Christmas days to come.” – Dolley Madison

    Montpelier Staff

    During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Christmas was primarily celebrated through fellowship, festive entertainment, visits to neighbors and family, and holiday tidings sent to friends and loved ones. While there is no evidence to suggest that holiday decorations were placed in the interior or the exterior of Montpelier during the Madisons’ time, James and Dolley had other Christmas traditions.

  • What’s New in the Grills Gallery

    Montpelier Staff

    The Joe and Marge Grills Gallery is now showcasing a series a of historical images, objects, and artwork depicting the Montpelier estate. The exhibit is comprised of works from the early nineteenth to late twentieth centuries, and includes Anna Maria Brodeau Thornton’s 1802 watercolor, View of Montpelier.

  • Draping the Dining Room

    Montpelier Staff

    The Madisons’ preference for stylish furnishings, as seen throughout the interior spaces of Montpelier, is further exhibited in a new installation in the Dining Room. On Friday, November 18, 2011, with assistance from historic textile consultant Natalie Larson, reproduction window treatments, including salmon colored silk drapery with green lining, sheer dimity under-curtains, and  cornices decorated in the neoclassical style of John and Hugh Finlay’s Baltimore painted furniture, were installed in the Montpelier Dining Room.

  • A shocking new installation at Montpelier

    Montpelier Staff

    Visitors to Montpelier during James Madison’s retirement vividly described the Drawing Room as museum-like and full of curiosities. Among these curious items was an “electrical machine,” likely intended as a party novelty to convey scientific principles and encourage socializing. Considered cutting-edge technology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, electrical machines, also referred to as a “philosophical instruments,” were used to demonstrate emerging theories of electricity.

  • Rolling out the red Brussels carpet

    Montpelier Staff

    The first of several carpet installations at Montpelier was laid on Friday, October 28. The Dining Room floorboards are once more covered with the installation of a Brussels weave carpet. In the nineteenth century, elegant carpets conveyed status, provided warmth during cool weather, protected floorboards, and enhanced the overall appearance of a room by thematically linking furnishings.

  • How tall was Madison, really?

    Montpelier Staff

    If you saw Richard Brookhiser’s recent appearance on “The Daily Show,” you might have been surprised to hear him say that James Madison was 5′6″. The height of America’s fourth president is a recurring topic of interest to visitors and readers. So, how tall was Mr. Madison? 

  • “a concise Geographical Grammar”

    Montpelier Staff

    James Madison, like many of his peers, was a man dedicated to knowledge of geography and history.  In an August 1822 letter to William Taylor Barry, Madison wrote: “A knowledge of the Globe & its various inhabitants, however slight, might moreover create a taste for Books of Travels and Voyages, out of which might grow a general taste for history, an inexhaustible fund of entertainment & instruction.” 

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