Spring 1997

Madison's Lifelong Home

The monument at James Madison's grave stands inside the Madison family cemetery at Montpelier. Dolley Madison, the first U.S. president's wife to be called "first lady" (in her eulogy by President Zachary Taylor), is buried just behind her husband's marker.

Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, was opened to the public on March 16, 1987, the birthday of James Madison, as part of the celebrations on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.

Ambrose and Frances Madison, the president's grandparents, first settled Montpelier in 1723.mn Their son, James Sr., construc-ted the m earliest portion of the main house in about 1760. Following the death of James Sr., the future president, James Jr., inherited Montpelier. After his marriage to Dolley Payne Todd, James Jr. built an addition to the mansion, which, during and after their life in politics, remained a center of hospitality for visiting national and international figures.

At his death in 1836, Madison was buried on the estate, and Dolley returned to Washington and sold Montpelier in 1844 to settle her son's debts. She died impoverished at the age of 81 in 1849. She and James are buried on the estate.

Title to Montpelier changed hands six times between 1844 and 1901, when William duPont Sr. purchased the estate. During this century, the duPonts enlarged the mansion to 55 rooms and added greenhouses, staff houses, a dairy, a train station, a racecourse, a steeplechase course and formal gardens.

Marion duPont Scott willed the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has owned and operated the property since 1984 and continues to pursue a long-term research and preservation program, "The Search for James Madison."

Montpelier is open to the public for tours and field trips. More information is available by calling (540) 672-2728.

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