Illustration 1, from an engraving, shows Montpelier as it looked during Madisonís retirement years. Evident are additions he made to the house, including a two-story, 30-foot addition and large classical front portico (columned porch and entry) built in 1797-1800, and two one-story wings on each side of the house added in 1809-12 (only one is visible in the engraving).
Recent archeological investigation has uncovered a kitchen and possibly a slave quarter at Montpelier. It is normal for buildings and their functions to change over time. Buildings like slave quarters were continually being torn down and rebuilt throughout a plantationís history.
Questions for Painting 1
1. What does the presence of the cattle in the front yard or the carriage approaching the house tell you about life at Montpelier?
2. Why do you think the fence was built in front of the main house?
3. What kinds of noises and smells do you think would have been present?
4. How does this visual image compare and contrast with the descriptions of Montpelier in the readings?
5. Note the small structure that resembles a circular Greek temple that Madison added in 1809-12. The "temple" forms a decorative cover for the ice house. Why might Madison have desired such a covering?
6. What other outbuildings do students think would have been necessary to support a plantation the size of Montpelier? Why do you think these outbuildings no longer remain standing?
7. Why do you think the kitchen and slaves quarters were not depicted in the engraving?
8. Why do you think it is so difficult to gather evidence on the daily life of slaves?
* The illustration on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a high quality version of Illustration 1, but be aware that the file will take as much as 32 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.