"If you're looking for Madison's memorial, look around. Look around at a free country, governed by the rule of law." With these words, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts presided over the opening of the newly restored physical memorial to the life of our nation's fourth president.
In addition to being the home of the Madison family for nearly 80 years, and the building where, in the mid-1780's, James Madison crafted the Virginia Plan--a major influence at the Constitutional Convention of 1787--Montpelier can now lay claim to be what National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe calls, "the biggest, most complex, most ambitious research and restoration project in the history of the National Trust and probably in the history of the nation." On Wednesday, September 17 (Constitution Day) with several thousand in attendance, the ribbon was cut, signaling the completion of Montpelier's five year architectural restoration.
Built around 1764 by James Madison's father, the house went through several additions by the family before
the President's death in 1836 and the selling of the estate by his wife Dolley in 1844. The history of the estate does not end there, as later families who called Montpelier home added their own unique touches to the property. Most notable amongst these was the duPont family whose purchase in 1901 by Delaware native William was soon followed by the eventual transformation of Montpelier into a luxurious country home. The duPonts expanded the house from 26 rooms to a total of 55. The family also added a second story to each of the Madison-era wings and rooms to the rear of the building--additions that doubled the square-footage of the home.
In 1928, William duPont’s daughter Marion duPont Scott inherited the estate and continued to add her own personal flavor to Montpelier. Known around the world for her equestrian interests, the duPont heiress added a race track and other facilities on the grounds. Her exquisite Art Deco “Red Room” displayed trophies and the photos of winning thoroughbreds. Marion, however, was also interested in history, and understood the significance of the home in the context of the American nation. This led to her wish to have Montpelier restored to its Madison-era appearance in her will.... Read More →
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