James and Dolley Madison's Home
Researchers have spent years studying documentary and physical evidence to determine how James and Dolley Madison lived in their home. They have determined that the following uses for the first floor rooms:
The South Passage was used to receive visitors. It is one of the largest rooms and was also used for dancing.
The Drawing Room was the central focus of the house. It served as the primary public room of James and Dolley Madison and showcased intellectual novelties and fine art, including paintings and sculpture.
James and Dolley entertained extensively at Montpelier and welcomed family, friends and dignitaries to stay at length. Guests would engage in dinner conversation as they were served lavish meals.
Visitor’s and friends throughout Madison’s life referenced his extensive library collections. Madison used this space to organize his personal papers and correspondence, including his notes from the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
Mr. Madison’s Room
James Madison spent much of his later years in this room because of his failing health. He would visit with guests, participate in dining room conversations and have easy access to his library nearby.
The Old Library served as the original library at Montpelier. In preparation for the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Madison likely used this space as a study. Pouring over books on world history and political theory, Madison took notes on the experiences of pas republics and began to develop the ideas that would be presented in the Convention as the Virginia Plan.
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