Central and Western Virginia Sights

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Montpelier

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Montpelier Review

Just outside Orange is the lifelong residence of James Madison (1751–1836), the fourth president of the United States. He grew up here, lived here with his wife, Dolley, and retired here after his presidency. A massive renovation was completed in 2008, removing parts of the mansion added by its 20th-century owners, the duPont family. In her will, Marion duPont Scott left the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation with the stipulation that it be returned to its original state. The mansion is now restored to its early-19th-century Madisonian state, a project that totaled $24 million. Some of the Madisons' possessions, as well as a tribute to the "Father of the Constitution," have been set up in an Education Center on the grounds. The walking tour includes a stop at the cemetery where James and his wife, Dolley, are buried. Exotic conifers planted by the duPonts dot the meadowlike grounds, and a walking path wanders amid an old-growth forest. The annual Montpelier Hunt Races, a steeplechase, have been held here since 1934 on the first Saturday in November.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Rte. 20, 4 mi southwest of Orange, 11395 Constitution Hwy., Montpelier Station, VA, 22957 | Map It
  • Phone: 540/672–2728
  • Cost: $16
  • Hours: Apr.–Oct., daily 9–5; Nov.–Mar., daily 9–4
  • Website:
  • Location: Orange County

Fodorite Reviews

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    Montpelier Review

    My spouse and I visited this historical sight over the Memorial Day weekend in late May 2011. If you plan to see both Montpelier and Monticello, I would save Monticello for last because it’s the best. We would have enjoyed Montpelier more had we seen it before visiting Monticello; seeing it afterwards was a bit of a letdown. The house at Montpelier isn’t really furnished, so the house tour isn't too impressive. The Montpelier restoration foundation is just getting started, though, and I think that in another year or so, the house will be much more complete. (Most of the authentic furnishings are missing, and the foundation is working to reclaim them.) The grounds are expansive, and it was quite warm on the day we visited, so we did not explore them very much. I think that children would really enjoy this estate, because there is an archaeological site, cooking demonstrations, extensive gardens, freedman’s cabins, and a cemetery. As adults without children, it was a pleasant excursion but not a don’t-miss attraction.

    by fluffnfold, 8/10/11

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