Reconstructing the Portico & Colonnade Decks

Research & Collections

Based on physical evidence, such as holes in the masonry where the joists were originally installed, as well as existing colonnade framing, the restoration carpenters were able to restore and reconstruct the Portico and Colonnade decks.

Images of the Decks' Restoration

A deteriorated section of a joist is removed from the Colonnade’s floor framing. A new piece of wood was used to replace the decayed joist and the joist was re-installed.

Carpenters working on the restoration install a massive new joist for the Portico deck. The new beam is made out of heart pine, the same material that President Madison used to frame the original Portico deck in ca. 1797.

Carpenters preparing the Colonnade deck for flooring.

Painting the Portico deck. The new decking for the Portico and Colonnade is also made from heart pine. Heart pine is not only the wood type Madison used for his decking, but also a relatively rot resistant material.


Building a President's House: The Construction of James Madison's Montpelier

With Conover Hunt, Bryan Clark Green and Ann L. Miller coauthored Building a President's House (2007) published by The Montpelier Foundation. This text discusses the various architectural campaigns to Montpelier during Madison ownership, the changes the duPont family made to the mansion, and the subsequent efforts of The Montpelier Foundation to restore the mansion to that of the Madisons' retirement.