Restoration of the Homes and Working Spaces of House Slaves
Over the next several years, Montpelier is excavating and reconstructing the homes of the enslaved familes who lived and worked near the Montpelier main house. Archaeological investigations in the yard between the garden and the mansion have revealed a number of outbuildings that date to the early 19th century, including two slave quarters, a detached kitchen, two smokehouses, and one additional structure. Daily activities of the enslaved domestics working and living in this yard would have revolved around preparing the Madison family's meals, chores for the main house, and providing for their own households.
Archaeological excavations in the South Yard have provided important information to the appearance of these structures. The evidence has revealed the two duplex quarters were timber frame (16x32 ft) with masonry chimneys and raised wooden floors. Large amounts of window glass has also been recovered in the area of the South Yard duplexes suggesting these homes had glazed windows. The smokehouses (14x14 ft) were also timber frame, but set at grade to contain smoke and protect the hams within from animals.
All of the structures in the South Yard appear to have been timber frame with consideration given to their outward appearance. The overall effect in the South Yard was a neat set of structures--and the surveillance of this area from the main house surely had an impact on slaves lives. The Stable Quarter structure is in complete contrast to these homes.
Restoration of these structures is set to be complete by the fall of 2017 with full furnishing and exhibits installed by the Spring 2018. Please follow our progress on our webcam and the archaeological investigations through our Instagram account (MontArch). The public is encouraged to visit the site to see our progress and can join in the archaeological digs from April though October.
3-D virtual reality model of South Yard looking towards main house. Courtesy of Savannah College of Architecture and Design.(Click to enlarge)
Webcam for the South Yard. Click here or on image above to see live link!
Above--plan map of South Yard. Click on image to enlarge.