Exterior Deconstruction

Research & Collections
 

The first step in the exterior restoration process was to remove all of the additions that the duPonts had made to the building. After all of the interior trim, floors, framing and fixtures had been removed from 1901 portions of the mansion, heavy equipment was brought on site to remove the duPont additions. Special care was taken to preserve all original Madison fabric, and hand tools were used to remove all material adjoining the eighteenth and early nineteenth century brickwork.

Concurrent with the demolition of the additions, the stucco was carefully removed by hand from the original Madison portions of the house.

Images of the Exterior Deconstruction

A mason removes the stucco from the exterior of the mansion with an air-powered chisel. While the earliest stucco coating dated to ca. 1855, the duPonts reapplied the stucco in the early twentieth century when they made their additions to the house.

View of the duPont additions after the windows, trim, and roof had been removed. Prior to demolition all of the interior spaces had been documented with photographs, measured drawings, and text descriptions. Additionally, a sample from each interior element (moldings, floors, plaster, lights, etc.) was taken and is now part of our permanent duPont collection.

Heavy equipment was brought in to quickly knock down the ca. 1901 exterior walls. Much of the material removed during demolition was recycled or re-used (including some of the framing that was re-sawn for use as studs in the reconstructed Madison-era partition walls).

The southeastern corner of the mansion after the removal of the duPont additions. The ca. 1901 interior plaster is still visible, as are the joist pockets that were used to support the floor framing.

 

 

Building a President's House: The Construction of James Madison's Montpelier

With Conover Hunt, Bryan Clark Green and Ann L. Miller coauthored Building a President's House (2007) published by The Montpelier Foundation. This text discusses the various architectural campaigns to Montpelier during Madison ownership, the changes the duPont family made to the mansion, and the subsequent efforts of The Montpelier Foundation to restore the mansion to that of the Madisons' retirement.