Montpelier, James Madison’s Home
I had the pleasure to visiting James Madison’s Montpelier, in Orange Virginia this week. A magnificent house , on 2,700 acres (originally almost 5,000 acres), with commanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Virginia countryside.
James’ grandfather acquired the land and originally built a modest house for his family. James was born March 16, 1751. Between 1763 – 1765 James’ father, James Madison, Senior had Montpelier built one-third of a mile from the original family home at Mount Pleasant. James attended the College of New Jersey (Princeton), served in the Continental Congress (1780-1783), participated in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787), drafted the Bill of Rights (1789-1797), was a member of the House of Representatives (1789-1797), served as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), was our fourth President-elected for two terms (1809-1817), James died at Montpelier, June 28, 1836.
James married Dolley Payne Todd, September 15, 1794. Together they added on to Montpelier as their family grew expanding the original house to the 22 rooms you see today. The tour of the mansion includes the Drawing Room, filled with various pieces of art, the Dining Room, where the Madison’s entertained important and influential guests, the Presidential Library filled with books and maps, the room where James Madison died and Dolley’s kitchen, which is in the basement of the house.
The impressive grounds contain the family cemetery, where James and Dolley are buried, a slave cemetery, Mr. Madison’s Temple (built over the year-round ice house), and a 200-acre old-growth forest, along with sites where the slave quarters were, the blacksmith shop site, a formal garden and the farm complex.
Although this historic house and property is about 2 hours north of Lynchburg guests staying with us at The Carriage House Inn could easily combine a tour of this house with either Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello or James Monroe’s Ashlawn and learn about two or three of our founding fathers, their lives, beliefs and what life was like at the dawn of our country. Additionally, Thomas Jefferson’s summer home, Poplar Forest is just 20 minutes from us. — Kathy
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