Mansion Cellars

Research & Collections

The cellars, out of view to most of the Madisons’ guests, were the everyday world of Montpelier’s enslaved household workers. They prepared food in the two kitchens, retrieved supplies from the storage areas, and ate meals or conversed in the servants hall. A wall separated the cellar of the original house from the 1790s addition, creating separate work spaces for the two Madison households. One kitchen supplied the needs of mother Nelly Madison, while the other was equipped to prepare meals for James, Dolley, and their many guests. Interactive exhibits in Dolley’s kitchen offer insight into recipes, seasonal tasks, and period kitchen equipment. Other exhibits throughout the cellars highlight archaeological discoveries and offer insight into the daily lives of slaves such as Paul Jennings and Ailsey Payne. 

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Nelly Madison's Cellar

Items located in Nelly Madison's cellar included "1 pine press, 1 old pine table and spinning wheel," and "2 pair kitchen andirons."