Click to enter Cascade Peaks
Click to enter Columbia River Gorge
Click to enter Columbia River Gorge in Winter
Click to enter LDS Temples of the West
Click to enter Don's 2002 Photo Jaunt
Click to enter Don's 2003 PhotoJaunt
Click to enter Acadia to Zion: America's National Parks
Click to enter Presidents' Places
Click to enter State Capitols
Click to enter Eastbank Esplanade
Click to view Vancouver Collage
Click to enter Southern Oregon Coast
Click to enter Don's Favorite Photos
Click to see Pheatured Foto
Click to enter Silver Falls
Click to enter Two Woodland Trails
Click to enter England in the 1950's
Click to enter Don's Photo Gallery

More of Don's
photo series.

Presidents' Places: James Madison

Montpelier, James Madison's home

Visiting James Madison's life-long home, Montpelier, requires a drive along country roads in Virginia. The road is well marked, however, and during the fall especially is worth the effort; it's a very nice place. The folks there call it [monpyeh], the French pronunciation, rather than [mont peel yer], the good ol' American pronunciation. Jemmy and Dolley probably called it [monpyeh], since they were pretty high class people. [Webmaster's note: I just watched and listened to a C-SPAN presentaion on James Madison and Montpelier; everyone on the program called it [mont peel yer]. I looked it up on several dictionary websites, and on some it was pronounced [mont pee yay]. My conclusion: it can be pronounced in a variety of ways.]


I knocked on the front door, but Jemmy and Dolley weren't home. I went in anyway, and was impressed with how well their house had been taken care of. Dolley always was a pretty fastidious housekeeper, making sure her slaves kept the place in tip-top shape for the fabulous parties she threw.

The view to the west

Jemmy said his house faced west because that was where the future of America lay. He was right about that, as he was about so many other things. However, having one's house facing west meant they got the hot summer sun in the afternoon and evening. My guess is that they spent much more time on the back porch, which is shaded, than out front in the hot sun.

The house has been added to and redesigned several times, before, during, and after the Madisons lived there. It is now going to be restored to the way it was when Jemmy died. {Webmaster's note: The C-SPAN program mentioned above, and the website linked above, show the mansion with the pink stucco removed; it is now brick, as the Madisons built it. Also, much of the building has been removed, restoring it to it's previous appearance. The work is not yet complete (June 2007).]

The Madisons' back porchJemmy's hunting dogs

The back porch is much more inviting, with the shade and all. But no view of the mountains. Jemmy's hunting dogs stand guard.

Inside, the house holds many artifacts of the Madison's residence there; here am I taking a picture of myself in Dolley's dressing mirror, something which I doubt she would appreciate.

Me in Dolley's dressing mirror

Sitting room at Montpelier

This is the sitting room at Montpelier, but I'm not at all sure this room existed when the Madisons lived there. The house was remodeled and enlarged after the Madison family sold it in the mid-1800's. But it's still a nice room.

Jemmy and Dolley -- a handsome couple indeed although Jemmy was only 5'4" tall, and weighed less than 100 pounds. He was smaller than Dolley, most likely. They had no children together, although Dolley had a daughter by a previous marriage. But that's neither here nor there. They were both great people: he as a political thinker and leader, promoter of and leader in the Constitutional Convention, strong supporter of George Washington while a Representative in Congress, author of the Bill of Rights, Secretary of State and close presidential advisor during Jefferson's tenure, Fourth President of the United States, etc., etc., etc.; and Dolley as the First Lady who set the standard for all the First Ladies who followed her. Many historians consider that Jemmy and Dolley have had a more lasting influence than any other president and first lady.

Jemmy and Dolley

Jemmy and Dolley served their country well throughout their lives.


All photos on this site ©Donald L. Mark 1973-2007   Back to "Presidents' Places" Index