A Look Inside James Madison’s Montpelier

If you've never been to Montpelier, click through for an inside look at the grounds, the gardens and the history of this American icon.

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Sarah Pixley
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Sarah Pixley
If you've never been to Montpelier, read on for an inside look at the grounds, the gardens and the history of this American icon. Pictured: The temple north of the home where James Madison contemplated democracy.
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Inside the gift shop as you enter the main entrance. James Madison's Montpelier is located at 11407 Constitution Highway in Montpelier Station, Va., about two hours from downtown D.C.
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James and Dolly Madison retired to Montpelier in 1817, where the couple managed a large plantation, entertained hundreds of visitors, and jointly edited Madison's significant political papers.
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A view from the front steps of the mansion.
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A statue of James Madison as you enter the movie theater before your tour. Tours are $15 per adult; kids are $7.
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A statue on the East Lawn of the home depicts Dolly and James Madison.
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Heirs of Marion duPont Scott, who were previous owners of the property, transferred ownership of Montpelier to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1984, in keeping with the wishes expressed in Marion's will. The National Trust retains ownership today, while the Montpelier Foundation operates the property.
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The entrance to the two-acre Annie duPont Formal Garden featuring formal walkways, sweeping beds, an herb garden and magnificent marble lions and urns.
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In the garden you'll find varieties of bearded and Japanese iris, day lilies and peonies.
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After William duPont's purchase of Montpelier in 1901, his wife, Annie, launched a project to transform the original garden into an early 20th-century formal garden.
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Some areas of the gardens are reminiscent of "Alice in Wonderland."
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From April 1 to Oct. 31, Montpelier is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Monday. The first tour begins at 10 a.m.; the last tour starts at 4 p.m.
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The grounds feature 2,650 acres of rolling hills, spacious horse pastures and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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A sundial in the center of the gardens. No need to check your iPhone here!
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Madison’s formal garden was designed by the French gardener Bizet, who was paid a then-substantial salary of $700 a year.
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Also a part of the grounds, the James Madison Landmark Forest is a 200-acre old-growth forest that offers miles of walking trails for beginner and experienced hikers. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Forest a National Natural Landmark in 1987.
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Free wagon rides -- available every half hour -- circle the entire grounds for a more candid look at the history of it all.
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During the dig season, both the archaeology site and the lab are open to the public. Throughout the year, they host one-week programs in which the public can participate in helping uncover Madison's past.
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Artifacts from the early 1700s are among the hundreds of items in the archaeology department.
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The archaeological records help locate slave quarters and shows how the landscape around the mansion was built.
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"Tools" used for the digs... really.
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