Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Montpelier Estate - The Home of James and Dolley Madison

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Montpelier Estate, Virginia
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Orange, Virginia, Montpelier was the lifelong home of James Madison. Madison was raised at Montpelier, lived here after his marriage to Dolley, returned here after his presidency, and died here in his study surrounded by the books and papers that marked so much of his life's work.

It was at Montpelier where Madison researched past democracies and conceived of the system of government that became our republic.

The Montpelier estate features the Madison mansion, historic buildings, exhibits, archaeological sites, gardens, forests, hands-on activities, a new Visitor Center, and a freedman's cabin and farm. Here, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can spend an hour or two—or a day or two—strolling the grounds, picnicking, and learning more about the man whose contemporaries called "Father of the Constitution," and the woman who inspired the title "First Lady."

Since 2004 the Montpelier mansion has been undergoing a massive restoration to return it to the home that James and Dolley knew and loved. A $25 million architectural restoration was unveiled on September 17, 2008.

Content Source: Montpelier Website

Donna and Randal at Huge Ancient Cedar of Lebanon
at Entrance to the Montpelier Estate Gardens
View my photo gallery of two separate visits to Montpelier, three years apart.  The photos are not only titled but there is a lot of information about the history: Montpelier Estate - Home of President James and First Lady Dolley Madison

Our favorite spot was by an ancient Cedar of Lebanon which was planted in the early 1820's which was during Madison's time.  It's been said that the three large cedars were a gift from France delivered during one of Lafayette's visits in 1824.

The cedar of Lebanon was the tree said to have been chosen by Solomon for providing the timbers to build the Temple. While there are some botanists who assign species status to a fourth form of Cedrus, it is generally accepted that there are only three species of the genus Cedrus in the world, the cedar of Lebanon (C. lebani), the Deodar cedar (C deodara) from the Himalayas, and the Atlas cedar (C. atlantica) from the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

All three of these species can be viewed on the Montpelier mansion lawn. Many of our trees we commonly call “cedars” are really junipers.

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