• Update on the Quarter for Field Slaves

    Matthew Reeves

    July 31, 2013 - This past month has resulted in some exciting finds at the site of the quarter for field slaves. After almost a year of excavating the site to find evidence for structures, we have finally identified two features that provide clues to the location for the homes of the field slaves that worked Madison’s farm in the early 19th century.

  • Nelly Madison: Aging Gracefully

    Curatorial Department

    June 20, 2013 - We invite all visitors to stop into the Grills Gallery and call on “Mother” Madison as did so many visitors to Montpelier two hundred years ago.

  • The Archaeological Field Season, Spring 2013

    Mark A. Trickett

    April 22, 2013 - Jigsaws. Sometimes archaeology is all about jigsaw puzzles. Are you a puzzle afficionado and intrigued by this idea?  Well, read on.

  • On the Mountain and in the Field--Metal Detecting at Montpelier!

    Matthew Reeves

    April 18, 2013 - You all might have noticed that the tents have popped back up at the quarter for field slaves--which means spring is finally here!  

  • Wagon Rides

    Ellen Blackmon

    April 12, 2013 - The “Percherons of Montpelier” have arrived and will be offering wagon rides to guests, Thursday - Sunday, departing from the visitor center every half hour.

  • Building the Future of the Constitution

    Jen Howell

    April 9, 2013 - In 1961, a 33-year-old real-estate developer surveyed an expanse of land adjacent to Washington, DC, languishing in neglect and thriving only in its junkyards and cheap motels. I imagine this place being where criminologists came up with broken windows theory.  But Robert H. Smith looked at this area and he did not see failure—he saw opportunity.

  • Montpelier's Inaugural Homeschool Day

    Ellen Blackmon

    When Dolley Madison’s good friend, the author Margaret Bayard Smith, visited Montpelier in 1809, Dolley asked Margaret why she hadn’t brought her children to visit, too. Margaret said she feared inconveniencing the Madisons, to which Dolley responded with a laugh, “I should not have known they were here, among all the rest, for at this moment we have only three and twenty in the house.”

  • Madison folklore

    Tiffany Cole

    As with many famous folks, the internet abounds with questionable folklore, spurious quotes, and outright falsities concerning James and Dolley Madison. It has long been repeated that James Madison, notoriously diminutive in stature, stood 5’4”. However, in documentary records...

  • Update: The Tobacco Barn Quarter

    Mark A. Trickett

    In Tolkien's famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings, the tormented Bilbo Baggins finds a form of catharsis in the transcription of the tale of his adventures in his book, "There and Back Again."  When sitting down to write this 'blog post, the title of that book just wouldn't leave my mind.  I realized that in its own way, the archaeological interpretations of the Tobacco Barn Quarter and have been "There and Back Again," too.  Perhaps not quite the epic tale of Bilbo, and certainly involved less giant spiders (though some of our field school students and volunteers would disagree with that!), the story presented by archaeological and documentary research is no less interesting in the insights they give into the daily lives of the Montpelier's enslaved field laborers, and the choices that Madison makes as farmer and natural scientist to ensure the economic success of Montpelier.

    As with all stories, we start somewhere near the beginning...

  • Archaeology Field Season, 2012

    Mark A. Trickett

    "...and the kitchen sink."

    We have all heard the phrase, so how does it apply to archaeology? While often used in derogatory fashion, in reference to the archaeological investigations of the "Tobacco Barn Quarter" it really refers to the comprehensive survey and excavation techniques employed to explore the homes of Madison's enslaved field laborers.

    Although the Montpelier Archaeology Department has recently back-filled the two sites that were the focus of the research this year, the work continues—we're still processing samples and cataloging finds both small and large in the archaeology laboratory. If you get the time don't hesitate to walk down the hill from the mansion and come and visit. We're open every day that Montpelier is open, whether you just want to visit or you want to get involved by volunteering.

    So what did we find this year?  Well, read on...

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