Montpelier is a historic home and National Trust for Historic Preservation site located in Orange County, Virginia. It was the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, author of the Bill of Rights, fourth President, and chief architect of the American Republic. Madison’s widow, Dolley, sold the property in 1841, and, after a series of owners, it was purchased by William duPont in 1901. In 1983, the heirs of Marion duPont, William’s daughter, bequeathed the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Restoration – Part I

In December, 2003, the Montpelier Foundation launched a complete restoration of the Montpelier mansion. The decision to restore was based primarily on the importance of James Madison to the formation of the United States government and an 18-month state-of-the art architectural and archaeological investigation that revealed that much of the Madison-era home was intact within the duPont additions.

With the restoration, the mansion was being returned in size, structure, form, and finishes to the home that James and Dolley Madison knew in the 1820s.

The restoration project removed alterations made to the Montpelier mansion after President Madison’s death in 1836. A majority of the removals involved taking off the two large wings that had been added onto the mansion by the duPont family in the early 1900s. Portions of the home were open to visitors during restoration, providing guests with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the restoration of the lifelong home of an American President and patriot. On September 17, 2008, the house was officially reopened in a grand Constitution Day Celebration.

Restoration – Part II

As the architectural restoration winds down, the next phase of restoration begins. This phase is focused on the challenge of refurnishing some of the rooms to the way they would have looked when James and Dolley Madison and James’ mother, Nelly Conway Madison, were in residence in the early 19th century. The focus is on the rooms about which there is the most information: the Drawing Room (108), the Dining Room (105), Mother Madison’s best room (112), and Mr. Madison’s room (the room in which he spent the final years of his life) (104).

Montpelier’s Curatorial department is currently underway with a three year grant-funded research project to locate, understand and provide context for Madison furniture and decorative arts.  Since this is such an exciting journey the hope is to engage the visitor and share the process of discovering Madison objects with them.  As the process is ongoing, we will continue to add more objects into the mansion over the coming months and years, and keep the world updated with entries on the blog. We hope our visitors will continue to come back time and time again as the interiors continue to evolve; changes within the Mansion interior will be very frequent as research advances and objects are acquired. 


The architectural updates were written by Gardiner Hallock, the Director of Architectural Research, and architectural photographs were largely the work of architectural historian Maggie Wilson.  In January 2009, the blog shifted focus from the architectural restoration to the refurnishing and restoration of the interiors. These updates are written by members of the Curatorial Department and posted by Megan Brett, the Curatorial Database and Records Manager. For more information please visit our website at www.montpelier.org

27 Responses to About

  1. Mark Allemang says:

    I had the privilege to visit in late February, 2008, and just found this website. I’m an amateur woodworker and witnessing the restoration is a wonderful learning opportunity. Thank you for documenting the process on this web site. I cannot wait to see the finished product, and plan to visit once more this July before returning after the grand opening. The skill of the crafts-people involved is amazing.

    I’m particularly interested in the period trim. Will details of the trim, including measurements, be made available at some point? I would particularly like to be able to make a fireplace mantle and surround “inspired by” the one in the drawing room. Perhaps you could invite Norm Abram and New Yankee Workshop to feature making a copy of one of the mantels?

    Mark A.
    Raleigh, NC

  2. Ted Miles says:

    i am out here in San Francisco so it is too far for me to get there for a while.

    with the new Visitor Center and Museum Complex a Mount Vernon and now your magnificant project you can be sure that a trip to the State of Virginia will be in the not very distant future.

    good Luck with the weather on the 17th!

    Ted Miles

  3. Ted,

    The Mount Vernon visitor center and Museum is a great addition to an already extraordinary site and well worth the trip from San Francisco. Combining it with the newly restored Montpelier and perhaps Monticello (which is opening a new visitor center in about 50 days) would make for a great trip.

    Take care and thanks again,


    P.S. The weather was perfect for the 17th, sunny and in the mid-70s. You can ask for better in September in Virginia.

  4. Mark,

    There are not any plans at the time to make drawings of the wood work available, but if you email me (ghallock@montpelier.org) I can send you a pdf with a scaled drawing of the Drawing Room fireplace. I have to warn you though, that egg and dart back back on the architrave is going to be tough to carve.

    Having Norm out to make a copy of a mantel is also a great idea and he’d be welcome anytime.

    Take care,


  5. Curt Hamilton says:

    Last week my wife and I made our annual visit to Montpelier. Its always exciting to see the progress from year to year. This year’s presentation was new and very interesting. Over the last few years we have have seen many changes and hear a wealth of information. My Question, has there been any discussion about writing a book about the restoration?
    Thanks for your time.

    • Curt,
      So happy to hear that you continue to enjoy your annual visit. A lot has changed in the past year!
      To answer your question: yes, there is a book about the restoration in the works. Unfortunately it does not yet have a publication date.

      Take care,

  6. Ted Miles says:


    I see mention of a book on the restoration of the building is in the works.

    I think that is a fantastic idea! Your web site coioverage is to be commended; but a book to hold in ones.

    Please include the jig saw puzzle stories
    of finding so many original pieces of the house in varied places like the mantle piece in the estate out building.

    The wood and stone work showed craftsmanship of a level seldom seen in these days of mass produced plastic finsihes.

    Ted Miles

  7. Kathy Jalm says:

    This wed site isout uf this world. So informative of all you have done to this wounderful home. Thanks for restoring our history. Kathy Jalm

  8. jane Nes says:

    Please give me the tel/fax/or email of Ray Canetti
    I have an historic building that needs his attention

    Thank you

  9. jane Nes says:

    Please give me the tel/fax and.or email address of Ray Canetti

    I am restoring an historic building that needs his attention

    Thank you Jane Nes

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