Evolution of the Mansion Video

A short video created by the Montpelier Foundation and Partsense, Inc that shows the evolution of the Montpelier Mansion through the three Madison family construction periods.  The first period shows the circa 1765 Georgian house that was built by President Madison’s father (James Madison Senior).  The second period includes the circa 1797 additions that were added by President Madison when he returned to Montpelier with Dolley after serving the House of Representatives.  The last phase dates to circa 1812 and illustrates the changes Madison made to the Mansion after he was elected president in 1808.

A series of photographs showing the deconstruction of the circa 1901 duPont additions to reveal the circa 1812 appearance of Montpelier.


30 Responses to Evolution of the Mansion Video

  1. Michael says:

    Pity I liked the house better when it had a Georgian façade before that Greek revival portico was added It really looks too large for the original structure to me.

  2. Michael,

    The period I house (built in circa 1765) is the classic shape for an upper class mid-century colonial Virginia brick dwelling. Its stripped down facade (without the belt courses, elaborate door surrounds and quoins seen on more elaborate examples) reflects is frontier context and gives it a simple, restrained appearance. You can see similar designs at both Salubria in Culpeper county (http://germanna.org/salubria.html) and Kenmore in Fredericksburg (http://www.kenmore.org/). Both of of these houses are open to the public.

    The Roman influenced Tuscan portico was added in 1797 and, according to Virginia’s State Architectural Historian Calder Loth, is one of the first of these monumental porticoes to be applied to a house in Virginia (the 1788 Virginia State Capital has an earlier example). It unified Montpelier’s expanded facade and helps to mark the beginning of the classical revival style and its British Palladian influenced designs in Virginia.

    Take care and thanks for the comment,


  3. Karen says:

    I am so glad to see this historic home restored to its original beauty, I was last there in July 2001 before the restoration and the red and chrome room was awful. Also to walk through the kitchen and be told it was once Dolley Madison’s bedroom was just wrong. Thank you for redoing this beautiful home.

  4. Karen,

    Thank you for the positive feedback on the restoration. We also think the project is restoring a wonderful house. Also, having the interior and exterior of James Madison’s home restored will allow us to provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to learn about one of the nation’s greatest statesman and political thinkers. As for the red and chrome room, it was actually found to be one of the most distinctive rooms in the duPont Montpelier (and very representative of the design ideals when it was constructed in the 1930s). In order to preserve such an interesting space, it has been reconstructed in the newly opened duPont gallery in the Montpelier Visitor Center.

    Take care and thanks again,


  5. Barbara says:

    I am so glad the restoration is taking place. How can you tour Madisons home when it wasn’t anything like it was in his life time? We have visited many times to watch the progress and are looking forward to the when the project is completed. My hat goes off to all who have helped in this . Thank you not only for myself but for future generations!

  6. Barbara,

    We couldn’t agree more and it’s been exciting to watch James Madison’s home re-emerge as the restoration progressed.

    Take care and make sure you make it back on September 17th for the grand opening,


  7. BC says:

    I’ve had the opportunity to visit the home twice, and it’s thrilling to see the Madison’s home emerging from beneath the Gilded Age additions. The structure that’s been revealed is a gorgeous home, one what will allow an exciting interpretation of the life and work of our nation’s least-know founding father. Congratulations to the entire restoration team for their dedication and perseverance. Huzzah!!

  8. BC,

    Thanks for the kind words and we feel the same way. As the father of the Constitution, Madison is one of the key figures in American history and having his home restored will provide an unprecedented opportunity to interpret his life as well as the living legacy of the US Constitution.

    Take care,


  9. Richard says:

    The restoration of Montpelier was unknown to me until the “Sunday Morning” program with Charles Osgood piece today. I am delighted to know of the survival of Madison’s home and its on-going restoration. Many congratulations on your discoveries and the attention to historical detail so obvious in the photos at this site.

    What a monumental undertaking! The house had been altered significantly by the duPonts and to do the necessary sleuthing to bring it back to the Madison occupancy is impressive indeed.

    Can you tell me the period you’re focusing on? From what I see it appears to be roughly 1820. Most of the chair rails and some of the mouldings I see in the photos suggest that period. Also – have any of the dependency buildings from the Madison era survived?

    Again – WELL DONE!! I’ll be planning a visit this year.

  10. Cheryl says:

    We were there in Sept 2006. I was so pleased to see the many wonderful changes. Definitely plan to come back when the work is completed. Imagine a little girl in Texas reading about Dolly 50 years ago, and then getting to go to Dolly’s home. (I think her biography was one of the first I read.) I was so excited to be there just to be walking where she did, etc was a thrill. Now to get to go back to see the home fully restored is one of my goals! Can’t wait to see it in person!

  11. Richard,

    Thanks for the encouragement and you have a good eye for architectural details. Our restoration period is the 1820s (Madison’s retirement period after his second presidential term) and much of the trim you see dates to the third construction period (circa 1812). However, one of the great aspects of Montpelier is that the house was originally constructed in c. 1765 and then enlarged twice (in c. 1797 and c. 1812) and we have architectural features surviving from all three periods. The evolution of trim work during the three periods is clearly visible (especially when comparing the trim from the 1765 and the 1812 periods) and we hope to one day have architectural tours that highlight these differences.

    Thanks again and definitely stop by and see the house for yourself.

    Take care,


  12. Cheryl,

    Dolley was a great lady and as we get closer to finishing the restoration we will be spending more time on the tour highlighting her role in the new republic and at Montpelier. We are also very excited to see the Mansion reemerge and its been great to see the grade on the front be restored back to its Madison-period level this past week.

    Take care and make sure to join us for the grand opening on September 17th,


  13. rose giambrone says:

    I was also at the house around 10 years ago and was very unhappy with what was done to this home. I came back in Oct. of last year and was so happy to see what you have done. It really is a marvel at what is being done. I will be back soon to seen the progress. I wrote to Martha Stewart at her TV show. The restoration would be a great segement on her show.

  14. Rose,

    It’s always great to hear from people who saw the house before the restoration and during. We are progressing very quickly and you should see some major progress compared to last October (almost all of the rooms are plastered and our painters are working hard to get the trim painted). We’d also love to have Ms. Stewart out here and she would definitely find the restoration worthy of her show.

    Take care,


  15. Dan Hager says:

    I was very fortunate to have grown up near Montpelier. From 1958 till 1969 I Lived only a mile away. I knew Mr. & .Mrs. Hasting that ran the farm store there on Rt. 20. Had lots of friends that worked for Mrs. Scott in those days. Mr. Tommy Southard was the farm manager and his son Grant worked for my father in his TV shop in Orange. Dwight Southard was Mrs. Scott’s chauffer/Driver. I knew Mrs. Scott and had been in many parts of the house as a young adult. (in my teens).
    To see what has been done is, in my mind, incredible! I’ve stopped by several times to view the project and it totally blows me away. We even came by last year with several of my friends in our Corvette club. I wished they had seen the Old Mansion the way I’ve seen it back in the sixties. Every year our family went to the November Hunt Races and I remember just looking at the Old Mansion up on the hill with all of it’s beauty. To see it today, words cannot express the feelings I have. The team of people that have taken on the restoration project are to be commended to the highest level. I have met and talked with one of the architects and several of the folks doing the diggings and studies of the grounds around the house. Just totally unbelievable! I had absolutely no idea the brick was under all that stucco. I always thought the old copper roof was beautiful but to see what it was like in the Madison days make you think it was terrible what the Scotts did to it.
    In closing, I just wanted to commend you and the team on what a great job you are doing and I’m sure that Mr. James Madison, his father, and the whole family are looking down and thinking, “Great Job!” I’m looking forward to visiting again when it’s finished.

    Thank you for your time and efforts!
    Dan Hager

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