South Yard & Rear Lawn (1817-1844)

Research & Collections

The carefully-landscaped Rear Lawn would have seen much use during the Madison’s retirement years, such as for Dolley Madison’s famous barbeques.  Yet such events would not have been constrained to simply the rear lawn, but would have utilized the nearby garden, and the forested walks around the mansion.

The proximity of the South Yard and the enslaved domestic servants would have been vital to the smooth running these events, with such features as the Roasting Pit likely being used to provide the sumptuous meats that were served.

Staff archaeologist Kira Runkle excavates the barbecue trench in the South Yard. Notice the reddened clay edges along the right side of the trench. Fires being built within the trench scorched the clay and transformed them into a brick-like consistency.