A Presidential Detective Story

May 20, 2009

Rediscovering the Furnishings of James and Dolley Madison

Today, on Dolley Madison’s 241st birthday, The Montpelier Foundation announced the launch of the second phase of the restoration of James Madison’s home—A PRESIDENTIAL DETECTIVE STORY: Rediscovering the Furnishings of James and Dolley Madison.

Montpelier marked the completion of a five-year, $25 million architectural restoration of Madison’s home on Constitution Day, September 17, 2008, at the National Restoration Celebration. Because Dolley Madison sold Montpelier eight years after James’ death, much of the furniture and household objects were sold at auction, given away, or passed on to extended family members. Now, the Foundation is embarking on the next chapter in this detective story—discovering and returning the interior decor and furnishings of the home during James Madison’s retirement years.

To accomplish this ambitious goal, Montpelier’s curatorial department is conducting a major research project to locate, understand, and provide context for Madison furniture and decorative arts. Montpelier is gathering a top-notch team of researchers and curators to embark on this new Presidential Detective Story. The nation’s preeminent experts on everything from wallpaper and draperies to sofas and sideboards are being consulted to ensure that furnishing the home achieves the high level of authenticity for which Montpelier has become known. Curators will continue to add more objects to the mansion over the coming months and years.

“The Montpelier Foundation is very pleased to begin the work of restoring the interior decor of the home of James and Dolley Madison,” said Montpelier President Michael C. Quinn. “This initiative will embody the same excellence in scholarship, authenticity, and quality that we brought to the architectural restoration, and will return the style of the Madisons at home.”

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