South Yard (1845-1865)

Research & Collections

The 1837 insurance map that aided Montpelier archaeologists focus their investigations into the South Yard provided a major clue to the fact that these structures were present up until the late 1830s. The complete lack of Civil War artfacts in the South Yard, however, indicated the structures were remvoed before the War.  Clues to the ultimate demise of these structures came from an unlikely source--stone paths and milkpans.

Originally, archaeologists believed the stone and brick pathways in the South Yard served as the means by which enslaved domestic servants moved between the duplex-homes and smokehouses, and the mansion itself.  This interpretation changed when archaeologists were excavating the Southeast Duplex-Home in 2011 as part of a broader investigation of the enslaved community at Montpelier.  Overlying the stone foundation of the early-19th-century duplex-home was a brick pathway that extended from the side of the mansion, joined with a path from the well house, and then headed towards the garden.

An interesting aspect of this path was the presence of a concentration of broken milk pans as part of the paving.  These milk pans actually mend with milk pans found under clay fill deposits in the front lawn dating to the 1840s. This association with changes to the front lawn suggests the paths were installed in 1848 with the larger changes to the landscape occurred.  The presence of these milkpans, combined with a wooden water pipe that potentially fed a spring house, suggested a nearby dairy that was likely razed and filled in the 1840s as well.

You may also be interested in the South Yard during:






Photograph showing path (D) cutting through madison-era duplex structure (A).

Volunteer mending milkpan recovered from South Yard and Front Fenceline.