Wells & Water (1797-1801)
One common question asked of the archaeologists was where the Madisons got their water. There are a number of answers to this question.
Archaeologically, what is likely an 18th-century well has been identified on the south side of the mansion. Although not at present excavated, this would have served the 18th-century mansion until the expansion of the mansion in the early 19th century required the excavation of a new well at its present location.
The current “Well House” on the south of the mansion, decorated by the duPonts with a trellis structure, is likely a 19th-century well. Although pathways that lead from the well-house are post-Madison, dating to the Thornton occupation, the well itself is likely of Madison date.
Perhaps of greater interest, however, was a wooden pipe trench that Madison installed through the South Yard. Fed by a spring house in the garden, these wooden pipes carried water to an unknown structure in the south-west yard of the mansion. Although the destination of the pipe trench identified in the South Yard has not yet been established, a common destination would be a dairy where the constant supply of cool water would have been vital to keeping milk fresh.