The Montpelier Foundation and Montpelier Descendants Committee to Auction Table Crafted from Historic Cedar of Lebanon
As of October 15, which also marks the middle of Virginia Archaeology Month, The Montpelier Foundation (TMF) and Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC) are inviting the public to bid on a Cedar of Lebanon table. Proceeds from this one-of-a-kind table – hand-crafted from one of the old-growth cedars that once towered over the Montpelier landscape – will go to fund the archaeological investigations at the burial ground that is the final resting place of over 250 people enslaved at Montpelier, as well as to fund community engagement around Memorialization.
Native to Lebanon, Cedar of Lebanon trees are rare species. Rare plants were once exchanged and presented as gifts to elites across the globe whose garden collections stood as a symbol of power and prestige. According to dendrochronology (a technique that dates trees by its rings), the cedar, known as a “witness tree”, that is, a tree that was present during a historical or cultural event, dates back to the 1850s. This tree “witnessed” the lives of the enslaved, their contributions, and emancipation.
“Be part of history, and empower James Madison’s Montpelier to tell a full and complete story” said Eola Lewis Dance, President & CEO of The Montpelier Foundation. "Your winning bid helps us to explore the history of democracy, slavery, resistance, and freedom. This unique cultural landscape was the home to over 300 enslaved Africans and their descendants, and the home of James Madison at the time he led the drafting of the American Constitution; establishing ideals of freedom, justice, and equality withheld from African Americans until emancipation and the modern Civil Rights movement. As a witness tree, the Cedar of Lebanon represents our shared history. Your investment in this table, not only wins you a unique artisan table, but charts Montpelier on the path to healing and truth, by supporting our efforts in archaeology, oral history, and memorialization.”
TMF and MDC have embarked on a historic partnership to be co-equal stewards of Madison’s estate. Earlier this year, they were awarded nearly $5.8 million by the Mellon Foundation to fund the construction of a memorial to enslaved people at Montpelier. Mellon is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. The grant is part of Mellon’s “Monuments Project” initiative, an unprecedented $250 million commitment to transform the nation’s commemorative landscape by supporting public projects that more completely and accurately represent American history, including the stories of those who have often been denied historical recognition.