Monday, March 1, 2010

My World Tuesday = Another Historic VA Home

James and Dolly Madison lived in this duplex home with his parents. James Madison had his good friend and fellow Virginia Thomas Jefferson, our third president design this home. The home eventually was sold after the presidency of James Madison and Dolly moved to Washington D.C. to live.

This is how the house looked in 2008 when we toured the mansion for about the fourth time. We keep going back to see how the historic renovation is going. As you can see the house is now down to the original bricks that have been cleaned and repaired in places. And the home has a colonial style roof instead of a tin roof. Now look below to see how James Madison's Montpelier looked back in 2003 before the renovation.

What a difference! Over time this home had been sold and resold until it eventually came in the early 20'th century into the hands of a woman who was a DuPont. She is the one who added two huge wings to the mansion and had the home stuccoed over and then painted pink. We toured this home a few years earlier when the home had just been opened for tourists after a lengthy drawn out feud among the heirs who did not want to follow the stated guidelines of the deceased DuPont who stated that the home should be rightfully restored to days of James and Dolly Madison.
What I remember most about the house on that very first visit is that the DuPont furnishings in the foyer, dining room and living room had not yet been removed to be given to the heirs. There were some beautiful Persian carpets and a huge mahogany Chippendale breakfront with all the crystal and china still on display.
The wildest room in the house was the DuPont hunt room that looked like a 1950's era black, white and red room with dreadful looking 50's modern furniture. This room had been used for fox hunt social functions and it displayed photos and trophies of the DuPont horses that had won many awards on the fox hunt circuit. The decor made Elvis's Graceland look good!

Sidenote: James and Dolly Madison like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves.
When the Madison's had garden parties the small children of the black slaves were required to go out on the big lawn with buckets to pick up all the droppings of the sheep. Can you imagine that!

Oh, we also learned from the tour guide that the reason there were sheep roaming the great lawn was that they were used to "mow" the great lawn by eating the grass.

Here is a Greek style temple on the grounds leading up to the home.

And here is a beautiful summertime view of the formal gardens of the home with the mountains
in the background.

I took this photo of Jack with all the white hydrangeas and shrub roses in bloom.

Hope you enjoyed this week's tour of a historic Virgina home. I'll be showing you another great Virginia estate next week. Now go visit some other My World Tuesday memes by just clicking here:
One last comment if you have time. The Washington Post ran an article this week about the old train station that the DuPonts had built for their servants on the grounds of Montpelier. Jack and I have been in this train station. Before the recent renovation and the new visitor's center was built one had to park at the defunct train station, buy your visitor's pass inside the station and then hop aboard a bus to go up to the home.
Now the defunct train station has been restored to its early pre-civil rights era of the twentieth century which means that when you tour the train station you will see how it looked when it was actually two stations in one: one for whites and one for colored people. If you take the tour you will notice two doors: one labeled whites and one labeled coloreds. Then after you enter you will notice that the white station waiting room was larger and spacious while the colored station was smaller and narrower. Also the restrooms for the colored were in the basement and I think the news article said that you had to exit the building to use them. But there was only one train attendant so there was a cubicle where the two waiting rooms intersected and the train attendant helped both groups. Of course, the whites were always waited on first and the coloreds had to wait till there was a free moment for the train attendant.


Sistertex said...

I used to live in VA. Beautiful place filled with history. Thank you for sharing some of it.

Sylvia K said...

Marvelous photos of such a beautiful and historic place. I've always wanted to visit there! Thanks for the tour! Have a great week!


noel said...


this are very scenic photos thanks for taking us on this tour, you captured some beautiful shots and experiences of your area...thanks for sharing


Denise said...

A wonderful post Joann. Coincidentally I was watching a show on the Madison's last night. Dolly seemed a very interesting lady.