Montpelier

Montpelier

Montpelier was home to President James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Architect of the Bill of Rights, and Dolley Madison, America’s first "First Lady."

It was here at Montpelier where James Madison shaped the ideas that would become the U.S. Constitution. For six months Madison sat in his upstairs library, where he meticulously studied past forms of governments and organized his thoughts into what he believed were the ideal principles for a representative democracy. Madison’s ideas would become the “Virginia Plan,” and later the framework for the Constitution.

The Montpelier estate features the mansion, garden, historic buildings, exhibits, archaeological sites, and forests trails. Spend an hour or two—or a full day with family and friends—strolling the grounds, picnicking, and learning more about the Constitution, James Madison, and Montpelier.

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Image Credit: Ron Cogswell / Flickr Commons

Hours

March 31 to November 1: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(first tour starts at 9:30 a.m.; last tour starts at 4:00 p.m.)
*Open 7 days a week. 

November 2 to January 3: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
(first tour starts at 11:00 a.m.; last tour starts at 3:00 p.m.)
On Thanksgiving weekend (Friday, Nov. 27-Sunday, Nov. 29) & Christmas weekend (Saturday, Dec. 26-Sunday, Dec. 27), tours hours are extended from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Please note, Montpelier is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

  • Signature Tour: Adults $22
  • Children (under 6 years): No charge
  • Children (6-14 years): $9.00
  • Friends of Montpelier: No charge

Activities

  • Introductory film in the Potter Theatre: 15 minutes
  • Signature Tour: 45 minutes / Specialty Tour: 105 minutes 
  • Self-guided second floor exhibits: 20 minutes
  • Outdoor exhibits and gardens: 60 minutes

History

This well-preserved 2,650-acre estate in Orange County, Virginia, was the lifelong home of James Madison. Its history begins with settlement by James Madison's grandfather in the 1720s, and includes slaves who worked and lived on the plantation, Civil War soldiers who encamped on the property, and a freedman's family who lived and farmed here after Emancipation.

In 1901 Montpelier was purchased by William duPont, a leading industrialist, and it remained in the duPont family for most of the 20th century. Upon the senior William duPont's death in 1928, Montpelier became the home of his daughter Marion duPont Scott. She and her brother, William, transformed Montpelier into one of the nation's leading equestrian estates and played an important role in establishing and promoting racing on the flat and steeplechasing in America.

Following Mrs. Scott's death, ownership of Montpelier was transferred in 1984 by her heirs to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in accordance with Mrs. Scott's bequest. The Montpelier Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, was later established by the Trust for the purpose of managing Montpelier. The Montpelier Foundation assumed full financial and administrative responsibility in 2000.

In 2003 The Montpelier Foundation began the restoration of the Montpelier mansion to the 1820s home that James and Dolley Madison knew and loved. The architectural restoration was celebrated on Constitution Day, September 17, 2008. Since that time, the Montpelier Foundation has used the same focus on authenticity to furnish the house and restore the grounds of the property and bring back the homes of the enslaved community who lived at and built Montpelier.

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Last updated: July 08, 2022
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