Plantation Site

Research & Collections


Montpelier was once a prosperous, working plantation, and the Madison family relied heavily on enslaved labor to cultivate and harvest crops. Approximately one hundred slaves labored at Montpelier at any given time, and over the one hundred years of Madison ownership, it is likely that some three to four hundred slaves worked and lived at Montpelier. The Madisons cultivated tobacco as their primary main cash crop and in later years they supplemented their plantation income with grains. The Montpelier Plantation Work Complex, which comprised both domestic and field slave living quarters, barns, craft structures, and other miscellaneous outbuildings, stretched between the Montpelier Mansion and the overseer’s complex located by the Madisons’ original home site of Mount Pleasant. To learn more, see the following pages:

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Image Rendered by Chad Keller, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia

South Yard

The above computer-generated rendering of the South Yard complex was created based on archaeological remains and an 1837 insurance map. The South Yard was comprised of two smokehouses, a kitchen, and three duplex-style housing structures.