The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Virginia and many parts of the Eastern United States on August 23, 2011 was not the first of its kind to tremble the area. James and Dolley Madison’s historic Montpelier home lies squarely within the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, and while noticeable earthquakes are highly irregular, they are not uncommon.
As we reported in an earlier post, the construction crew delayed building the second smokehouse to allow our archaeologists time to confirm its precise location. The archaeology team sprang into action and found the evidence to confirm where the original smokehouse stood.
“The statuary and painting at Montpelier exceeded anything my youthful imagination had ever conceived.”1 This account of Anne Mercer Slaughter’s 1825 visit to the Madisons is representative of the awe visitors recalled following their time in Orange.
By now you have probably seen the mysterious Facebook photos of the cutouts at the Madisons’ Dining Room Table. In addition to James and Dolley, the dinner guests include presidents (Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Andrew Jackson), a Revolutionary War hero (the Marquis de Lafayette), a writer and Washington friend of the Madisons (Margaret Bayard Smith), and Dolley’s sister (Anna Payne Cutts).
The next time you walk into the Montpelier Dining Room, take a close look at the faces around the table. You will see figures of the Madisons and several of their notable dinner guests, enjoying one of Dolley’s sumptuous feasts. This scene is one of the new mansion exhibits that help visitors experience Montpelier’s famous people and events.
The last couple of days have been busy! The construction crew completed the first smokehouse frame in the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Get your hard hats because we’re about to enter a construction zone! Beginning tomorrow visitors can watch a team of carpenters build timber outlines of two smokehouses, part of the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived and worked during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Have you ever bought the commemorative edition of a newspaper or magazine? Maybe you bought the TIME issue that commemorated President Obama’s inauguration, or the Boston Globe the day after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. James Madison bought commemorative editions too.
Dolley Madison is renowned as a fashion icon of the Early Republic. She is often remembered for her glamorous appearance as First Lady hosting parties in the fashionably decorated Drawing Room of the President’s House. But how do we know what Mrs. Madison wore? The answer is threefold: portraits, written descriptions, and surviving gowns which are believed to be hers.