South Yard Collections

Research & Collections

Although the South Yard was utilized as a service complex in the 18th and 19th centuries, Madison’s reconfiguration of the mansion was also mirrored in the South Yard. Identified on a fire insurance map from 1837, the South Yard was comprised of three duplex-homes—or what are referred to as “Dwelling House for Servants”—and two smoke houses. The South Kitchen, built in the mid-18th century is curiously absent, indicating that it was demolished sometime before 1837.

The service complex represents outbuildings where enslaved domestics worked and the homes where they lived. Artifacts recovered reveal a community of people who participated in the local market economy and owned a variety of different types of ceramics, glassware, personal and clothing items, and used various iron tools and hardware both in their daily work and at home.

Below is a representation of the types of materials and objects recovered during the 2008 and 2012 excavations. For a more detailed description of the artifact assemblage and analysis see: South Yard Object Report.



Final overhead photograph of the excavations in the South Yard of two duplexes for enslaved families (2011). The mansion, two smokehouses, a detached kitchen, and a third duplex are in the background.

Image of the reconstructed South Yard showing the visitor path and interpretive signage (2013). The mansion is in the background.